Jul 15, 2019 | Updated: 10:46 AM EDT

North Korea's Missile Tests Spotted From Space

May 07, 2019 11:53 AM EDT

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One of Planet Lab's Earth-observing Dove cubesates captured this image of a North Korean short-range missile test on May 4, 2019.
(Photo : Credit: Planet Labs Inc; launch analysis by Middlebury Institute of Internationals Studies)

It seems that North Korea is at it again. The country is conducting its missile tests again after 18 months. The satellite photo above shows a missile being launched into the Pacific Ocean from the country itself, with a very clear shot of the missile's curving smoke trail.

This was taken by an Earth-observing Dove satellite that was built by Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based company. Their Dove CubeSats are 'smaller than a loaf of bread but can capture imagery with a resolution of 10 feet to 16.5 feet (3 to 5 meters).' They currently have several operational CubeSats in orbit, more than a hundred of them in fact.

According to a report by the Associated Press, South Korean military officials stated that the projectiles in this most recent North Korean test traveled between 44 miles and 149 miles (70 to 240 kilometers) before going down into the Pacific Ocean. The test appears to be based on Russia's 9K720 Iskander, has a range of about 310 miles (500 km) and can carry a nuclear weapon.

In November of 2017, North Korea tested something that was very different, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It was in flight for 54 minutes and traveled about 620 miles (1,000 km) before going down in the Pacific again. At that time, experts stated that the ICBM has a range that's more than 8,100 miles (13,000 km), which basically means it can reach the U.S. East Coast.

Because of its past actions, North Korea has been castigated several times by the international community. There had been multiple sanctions and penalties placed on the country, and after several meetings with US officials, its leader, Kim Jong Un, stated that he won't perform any more ICBM or nuclear tests.

Although last Saturday's missile launch doesn't violate that promise, according to experts, his current actions signal that he is not quite satisfied with how the current negotiations with United States. 

"This is a pretty classic move from them to start small and work their way up," Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, stated in an interview with CNN. "It's a warning that there's more to come."

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