Planet Labs Exposes North Korea’s New Rocket Launch Site

Planet Labs' space scientist Will Marshall with Dove satellite in 2014 (edited). Photo via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.

Back in 2018 North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un made a promise to entirely demolish the country’s rocket launching station in Tonchang-ri. On March 27th 2020, Planet Labs Inc., a US company from California, presented evidence to the contrary.

The detailed imagery, taken by the Planet’s satellites, shows that the construction site in Sohae is pretty much active.

A lot was clearly done in a short period between March 2nd and March 27th — several miles of new roadwork, hangars, and freshly covered tarmac.

Planet Labs shared the footage via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. It then was exclusively shared with NPR.

The Sohae rocket site imagery was obtained by PlanetScope, which is a fleet of incredibly sensitive satellites called Doves. Each one is calibrated quarterly with an absolute accuracy of better than 5%.

There are 120 Doves orbiting Earth daily in 2020.


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