Pyongyang: North Korea says they are planning to put a man on the moon within the next 10 years. Kim Jong Un has ordered space officials in the country to work on a plan that will see them put more advanced satellites into orbit and even attempt a moon landing.
Pyongyang has been hit by a raft of international sanctions due to their nuclear and missile activities. But a senior official from the country’s version of NASA said the sanctions would not stop them from launching more satellites by 2020 and even planting the North Korea flag on the moon within the next ten years.
Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration told the Associated Press: ‘Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon.
Hyon added that the first step in the programme would focus on more earth observation satellites and what would be its first geostationary communications satellite which, technologically, would be a major step forward.
He said universities are also expanding programs to train rocket scientists. Hyon explained: ‘We are planning to develop the earth observation satellites and to solve communications problems by developing geostationary satellites. All of this work will be the basis for the flight to the moon.’
North Korea has marked a number of successes in its space programme — and, of course, in its development of ever-more-sophisticated long-range missiles for military use.
On Wednesday, it test-fired what was believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile into the seas off Japan, the fourth reported weapons launch the North has carried out in about two weeks.
It launched its latest satellite the Kwangmyongsong 4, or Brilliant Star 4 into orbit on February 7, just one month after conducting what it claims was its first H-bomb test.
That brought new sanctions because nuclear tests and rocket launches, which can have military applications, are banned under United Nations resolutions.
But Hyon branded the sanctions as ‘ridiculoous’, added: ‘Our country has started to accomplish our plan and we have started to gain a lot of successes.
‘No matter what anyone thinks, our country will launch more satellites.’ However, an unmanned, no-frills North Korean moon mission in the not-too-distant future isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Outside experts say it’s ambitious, but conceivable.
And while the U.S. is the only country to have conducted manned lunar missions, other nations have sent unmanned spacecraft there and have in that sense planted their flags.