North Korean Rocket Launch

Reply Thu 12 Apr, 2012 07:29 pm
Does the US have the technology required to knock down a rocket (shortly after its launch) without North Korea (or anyone else) being able to detect it?

It seems "convenient" that the N. Korean rocket failed. But I would think that Russia at least, and probably China and others, could detect an intercept. But if they did, would they tell anybody? Are there any countries that really wanted N. Korea to succeed with this launch?

I don't have a good feel for current missile intercept technology so I'm not sure what's possible and what's not.
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Reply Thu 12 Apr, 2012 09:58 pm
Interesting question. I am not usually one for conspiracy theories but several nations conspiring to keep secret a shoot-down of this missile is possible. The scary question then would be "what were China and Russia given to get their participation?"
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Reply Fri 13 Apr, 2012 10:18 am

America has had fully operational laser systems for some time now that have the ability to knock out airborne missiles, aircraft, and ground targets (the most photogenic system is the Zeus laser system that is used to take out IED's).

Now in respects to the theater in North Korea, from the naval composition that was sent to North Korea, it is very clear that it was going to be a salvage operation from the get-go. Any individual with naval operations experience could have told you, I'm sure North Korea knew, but it would be worse for them to not go through with their launch. And in respects to what brought it down, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pozlp_wnkRk&feature=related

(*Note, the only reason why anti-missile ships were out there was completely due to standard naval formations which are designed to layer protection for their ships from attacks)
Reply Mon 16 Apr, 2012 01:27 pm
There's A Reason It's Called Rocket Science
by Scott Neuman - NPR
April 13, 2012

North Korea this week quite literally demonstrated an old truism, with the world as an anxious witness. It turns out that reaching space is, as the saying goes, as tough as rocket science.

The much hyped launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea said was meant to place a satellite into orbit to celebrate the centenary of the country's "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, apparently failed Friday shortly after launch. It was the fourth time North Korea had tried and failed to do it, adding to the growing worldwide history of failed rocket launches.

So why is missile and rocket technology so difficult to get right?

Failure Is Always An Option

Jim Walsh, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program, says the first thing to consider is that lots of things can go wrong.

"A rocket is an extremely complex device. There are millions of pieces and therefore millions of opportunities to make errors — to make errors in calculations, to make errors in construction," Walsh says.

One of the biggest technical challenges to getting a satellite into orbit — or a long-range missile to its target — is "getting the staging right, so that the separation and ignition occurs at the right time and in such a way that it doesn't change the rocket's trajectory," says Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association.

The more stages, the greater the difficulty. Like most satellite launch vehicles, the Unha-3 is a three-stage vehicle.

"It's not just that adding a second stage just makes it doubly difficult or that adding three stages makes it three times as difficult," says Walsh. "It goes beyond that. You're trying to integrate those stages and, in this case, carry a payload into orbit. So, it's substantially more challenging and that's why you have so many failures."

And in rocket science, failure is always an option, says Walsh. He points out that while the capability to launch either a spacecraft or a warhead is substantially the same, producing a nuclear bomb such as the one North Korea successfully tested in 2006 "turns out to be far easier to do than to develop a three-stage rocket that can carry it halfway around the world."

A Shallow Talent Pool

For Pyongyang, the talent pool for engineers and rocket scientists is shallow. While some of that expertise exists elsewhere, it takes thousands of qualified individuals, Walsh says.

"Think NASA in the 1960s. It had lots of failures along with lots of successes, but NASA had lots of cash and tens of thousands of employees as well as hundreds of thousands of industrial and university contractors," he says.

What you really need to launch satellites is people who have had experience — and lots of it — at getting things wrong, says Guy Ben-Ari, deputy director and senior fellow with the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

You really need to have a talent pool that has experience working on these issues.

- Guy Ben-Ari, Center for Strategic and International Studies

"It's not enough to have access to the published papers, the plans and the documents," he says. "You really need to have a talent pool that has experience working on these issues."

There's another complexity that may be more important than the complicated inner workings of a rocket. It has less to do with technology than it does culture, says Ben-Ari.

"How do you structure an organization with so many working parts that need to come together for a common goal? How do you incentivize the right amount of risk-taking, how do you manage knowledge and information-sharing among different parts of the organization? That's not easy," he says.

Even in the United States, those hundreds of thousands of individuals worked together under the NASA rubric that eventually sent men to the moon. In North Korea, a society in which the individual consequences of failure could be quite severe, creating a workable management structure could be supremely difficult, says Walsh.

"In a society like North Korea, people are risk-averse and extremely cautious. That's probably not the best culture for a huge, technical endeavor like this," he says. "When mistakes happen, they may not get corrected out of fear."

The evidence that North Korea's rocket program may suffer from disorganization goes beyond the obvious string of failures, says the Arms Control Association's Thielmann.

"We can see evidence that they are digressing from a well-managed program," he says.

Practice (At Failure) Makes Perfect

Each of the four failed launches involved a different staging configuration, he says.

"Testing is everything in a rocket program, and you can't control the variables that way," Thielmann says. "The more you change things around, the less likely you are to get usable results."

If North Korea is going to successfully weaponize its nuclear arsenal so it has the capability to rain warheads on the West, it's going to take a lot more work, Thielmann says.

"That means they are going to need a warhead that is small enough and can survive the immense vibration of re-entry and they are going to need the telemetry to test it," he says.

Thomas Donnelley, a defense and security expert at the American Enterprise Institute, acknowledges that North Korea's rocket program faces some steep obstacles. At its core, ballistic missile technology is still rocket science — but it's getting easier, he said.

"As it was for us, the engineering challenges are difficult," he says. "But you're not inventing new science here. You just need the resources to do this repeatedly. This is definitely a case of practice makes perfect."

Sooner or later, North Korea will have rockets that work, he warns.

"Relying on them to fail is not a great plan. They are trodding a path that many nations have trod before," he says.
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Marie Colvin
Reply Wed 30 May, 2012 06:20 am
Hello friends,

The rocket - seen by many as a banned test of long-range missile technology - was launched from north-west North Korea early on Friday. The US, Japan and South Korea say it flew only for a short time before breaking up and crashing into waters off the Korean peninsula. North Korea said its scientists were assessing what had caused the failure. North Korea says the aim of the launch was to put a satellite into orbit - a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung.

Best regards
Marie Colvin
0 Replies
Marie Colvin
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2012 10:50 am
Hello friends,

Thanks for sharing your information, Really I am highly appreciated.

Best regards
Marie Colvin
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