Friday, July 07, 2006


[The funny word in the news...]
The Taepodong-2 (TD-2), (Korean: 대포동-2, meaning "large cannon") is a designation used to indicate a North Korean three-stage ballistic missile design that is successor to Taepodong-1. Very little is currently known for sure about the missile design; on July 5, 2006, one was reportedly tested and, according to preliminary reports, failed around 35-40 seconds after launch. It is reported by NBC that a second or possibly third might be launched soon. [1]

Based on the size of the missile, the fuel composition, and the likely fuel capacity, it is estimated that a two stage variant would have a range of around 4000 km (2500 statute miles) and a three stage variant would be capable of reaching as far as 4500 km (2800 statute miles), giving it potentially the longest range in the North Korean missile arsenal. The burn time of each stage is a little over 100 seconds, thus allowing the missile to burn for 5 or 6 minutes. Future highly speculative variants of the missile could be capable of a range of approximately 9000 km (5600 statute miles).[2] At maximum range, the Taepodong-2 is estimated to have a payload capacity of less than 500 pounds. [2] This is an order of magnitude lighter than the likely weight of any North Korean nuclear device....

According to Kim Kil Son, a former worker in the publications department of one of North Korea's top research centres, North Korea began development of the missile in 1987.[3]

Very few details concerning the technical specifications of the rocket are in the public domain; even the name "Taepodong-2" is a designation applied by agencies outside of North Korea to what is presumed to be a successor to the Taepodong-1....

The Taepodong-2 missile was test fired on July 5, 2006 from the Musudan-ri Missile Test Facility.[5] According to preliminary reports, the missile failed in mid-flight 35-40 seconds after launch. [6] In an apparent effort to ensure that the missile would not be shot down by United States or Japanese defense systems and so they could get better readings on the test-fire results, North Korea also launched at least two short-range Nodong-2 missiles along with the Taepodong-2. The 3 missiles were apparently tracked by at least 1 U.S. guided missile cruiser. The ship's weapons systems were in a standby mode and according to Navy sources were never activated in order to track the missile. The main reason for this was the short flight time of the Taepodong-2. Navy sources unofficially stated that had the missile threatened Japan or any other country, the missile would have been targeted. Currently, U.S. officials believed that the Taepodong-2 was configured to deliver a satellite into orbit rather than as the flight test for a ballistic missile.[7]

Failures during the testing of new rocket launch systems are not in any way unusual; the first Ariane 5 launch failed, as did the Falcon 1. The first test launch of the Minuteman missile succeeded, but the second and fourth failed [4].


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