BROOMFIELD, Colo. (UPI) — The reason a North Korean rocket launched Friday failed may be apparent to experts but probably will never be publicly revealed, a U.S. space expert says.
North Korea launched its long-range Unha-3 rocket with a satellite aboard despite objections from the United States and other nations, which viewed it as a thinly disguised military missile test, North Korean officials said it broke up and crashed into the sea shortly after liftoff.
While American intelligence officials may already know what went wrong, the general public will likely never be clued in, Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Colorado-based Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the U.S. Air Force, said.
“I think the U.S. military and its allies in the region probably have a good idea of what happened [perhaps more so than the North Koreans], but it is unlikely the public will ever know,” Weeden told SPACE.com in an e-mail. “That type of technical intelligence data is rarely ever made public.”
The failure of the Unha-3, launched from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in northwestern North Korea, was the fourth long-range rocket mishap in a row for the country.
“It’s also very hard to speculate what went wrong, as I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the event happened while the first stage was burning or at second-stage ignition,” Weeden said.