AKA: Taepodong 3;Unha 3. Status: Active. First Launch: 2012-04-12. Last Launch: 2016-02-07. Number: 4 . Payload: 100 kg (220 lb). Gross mass: 90,000 kg (198,000 lb). Height: 30.00 m (98.00 ft). Diameter: 2.40 m (7.80 ft). Span: 3.00 m (9.80 ft). Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).
It is designed to place a 100-kg satellite payload into a 500-km altitude polar orbit, firing south from the new west coast Tongchang-ri space launch site.
In the NOTAM (notice to airmen) issued by North Korea on 19 March 2012, the impact zones of the first and second stages were given as 480 km and 2500 km directly south of the launch site. The first stage impact range indicates that the first stage burnout occurs at over 100 km altitude and a velocity of 2700 m/s. Stage two would burn out at over 250 km altitude and a velocity of 5000 m/s. This would mean the theoretical delta V for each stage, and corresponding masses would be as follows:
Despite western press speculation that the Unha 3 could be the basis for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States, this three stage rocket is incapable of lofting the payload necessary for that mission. Similarly the American and Soviet analogues (Thor and R-14) could not be upgraded for such a mission. In 1957 Soviet Chief Designer Yangel sold his R-16 ICBM concept to the leadership as simply his R-12 IRBM serving as the second stage to his R-14 MRBM. In fact substantial redesign and repackaging of all elements, and new propellants were necessary to provide a viable ICBM. The same applies to any North Korean design, which would require a new 3-m diameter first stage.
Despite speculation that this launch would be the first test of such a missile, photography at the site by the international media in April 2012 indicated the same design, designated Taepodong-2, was being used as in the prior satellite launch attempt on 4 July 2006. The first orbital launch attempt, on 31 August 1998, used the much smaller 33-metric-ton Taepodong-1.
Third North Korean satellite launch attempt, conducted despite international protests (that attempted to connect it with the country's missile program). Launched from a new site on the west coast of Korea on a southwest trajectory, to achieve a polar orbit and also avoid overflying Japan. Failed at first stage separation. Unusually North Korea provided the western press access to the launch site prior to the attempt, and admitted the launch failure after the fact.
First successful North Korean satellite launch. Amateur observations showed the satellite to be tumbling, and no signals were picked up at the announced 470 MHZ frequency - it was assumed the spacecraft never functioned or failed shortly after orbital insertion.
North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA, Kukga uju gaebalkuk) carried out its second successful satellite launch . The satellite, Kwangmyongsong-4, entered a 500 km polar orbit like the KMS-3-2 satellite launched in 2012. It appears both satellite and launch vehicle are very similar to the 2012 mission. The launch vehicle this time carried the name 'Kwangmyongsong' but appeared to be essentially identical to the Unha-3 launched in 2012. As of Feb 17, hobbyist observers had not picked up any radio signals from it. 0840LT SSO.