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North Korea launches spy satellite

In its third attempt this year to launch a spy satellite, North Korea today succeeded at last, its new Chollima-1 rocket lifting off from Sohae spaceport on the country’s western coast and placing in orbit what is probably a relatively primitive spy satellite with a limited lifespan.

Though launched on the coast, the flight path crossed over North Korea, with drop zones for the rocket’s lower stages in the Yellow and East China seas. The previous two launch failures (in May and August) did the same, with South Korea salvaging stages and the satellite from the first failure. The data recovered suggested the spy satellite was of “no military utility” according to the South Korean military.

As usual, U.S. and South Korean officials condemned the launch, calling it a violation of UN sanctions. Note too that this was not North Korea’s first successful launch, having managed launches in 2012 and 2016 previously, with a different rocket.

Because this was North Korea’s first success in 2023, the leader broad in the 2023 launch race remains unchanged:

86 SpaceX
52 China
14 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

However, the launch was the 180th in 2023, setting a new global record for the launches in a single year, eclipsing the record set last year. Since Sputnik in 1957 the average number of successful launches globally was generally less than a hundred. This year it is very possible the world will double that average, almost entirely because of American private enterprise, which leads China 98 to 52 in successful launches, and the entire world combined 98 to 82. SpaceX by itself still leads the rest of the world (excluding American companies) 86 to 82.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


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