Military

No Launch Activity in Advance of Inter-Korean Summit

On Saturday April 21, commercial satellite imagery from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station indicates minimal to no activity ahead of the inter-Korean summit. The summit is scheduled to take place on April 27.

The imagery of key facilities at Sohae shows no visible activity at the launch station or associated facilities. While dwindled ground activity could be attributed to the fact that images were taken during a weekend, the absence of any parked vehicular traffic and human activity suggests compliance with the leadership’s declaration, coming out of the Third Plenary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party last week, to halt missile and nuclear testing during this period of diplomacy with South Korea, China, and the United States.

Key Findings

  • Headquarters: There are no visible activities in and around the support and headquarters areas.
  • Launch Pad: While construction of a new structure near the launch pad appears to be nearing completion, there is no indication that construction work is continuing at present.
  • Engine Test Stand: There is no sign of a recent engine test or preparations for a new satellite launch at the vertical engine test stand. No personnel or vehicles appear present at the fuel and oxidizer storage buildings and elsewhere throughout the facility.
  • Processing Building: There are no personnel or vehicles present at the processing building.
  • Support Area: There are no noticeable activities at the launch control building and adjacent housing areas.
  • National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) Building: No activity of note is visible at the National Aerospace Development Administration building. The helicopter landing pad adjacent to the building is also empty.

 

The Sohae Satellite Launching Station, also known as Tongchang-dong Space Launch Center, is North Korea’s main ballistic missile and rocket launch facility located on the northwest coast of North Korea. The facility was first publicly used to launch an Unha-3 rocket on April 13, 2012, and has been the site of two additional launches of Unha-3 class rockets on December 12, 2012 and February 7, 2016 and other ballistic missiles. The facility has undergone a number of improvements until recently, with the external completion of the newest structure southeast of the launch pad.

Image: There are no noticeable activities in the support or headquarters areas.

 

Image: While a new structure is almost complete east of the launch pad, there is no indication that exterior work is continuing at present.

 

Image: There is no evidence of a recent engine test or preparations for a satellite launch at the engine test stand. No personnel or vehicles appear present at the fuel and oxidizer storage buildings and elsewhere throughout the facility.

 

Image: There are no personnel or vehicles present at the processing building.

 

Image: No activity of note is visible at the launch control building and housing areas.

 

Image: There are no vehicles and visible activities at the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) building. The adjacent helicopter landing pad is also empty.