Pyongyang announced Monday it was extending the launch period of its rocket to late December after admitting it had detected “technical flaws” in the first stage of the carrier.
Scientists had been making final preparations when they reportedly found the defect in one of the engines. “A technical deficiency was found in the operational engine of the first stage of the rocket, so the launch date for the satellite will be prolonged until December 29,” state-run Korea Committee for Space Technology said in a statement.
The operational engine is responsible for the posture of the rocket and the glitch could affect its designated trajectory during flight, a senior researcher at South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Research Institute told the Korea JoongAng Daily, on condition of anonymity.
The delay was initially believed to have been caused by heavy snow as shown in a satellite image of the Sohae launch site.
Officials stressed that scientists and technicians were still “pushing forward” with preparations for the launch despite the setbacks.
“Previously, they just fired off the rocket, without any notice… now, they appear to meet the international standards to launch the rocket, calling it a satellite, by sending a notification to the international organization and issuing a public statement about its schedule,” Yun Duk-min, a professor at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security, said.