Great success! North Korea has successfully launched a satellite into a near earth orbit and it is now circling the earth at about 1 mile below sea level. That’s right: North Korea’s Taepodong-2, the much-feared long-range missile that had even the Obama camp worried, broke up over Japan at about 11:37am and then fell into the water at 11:48am on Sunday. The launch is described as a complete success in North Korean reports although American military command believes it to be a failure. Nonetheless, the ability to push a rocket even close to U.S. soil is obviously disconcerting. The NYT writes:
North Korea’s public portrayal of the event as a complete success was similar in its celebratory tone to the happy note it struck in 1998 after having failed to loft a satellite into orbit.
A general rule of engineering is that failures reveal more than successes. If so, North Korea — which has now test-fired three long-range rockets, each time unsuccessfully — is learning a lot about limitations.
This experience is fairly consistent over in North Korea – a great deal of posturing followed by an engineering failure. However, experts believe that continued launches will eventually prove fruitful and the next Taepodong-2 may break the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of the moon, provided, as this Onion article suggests, they bring the moon to Pyongyang.