Confusion over North Korean 'satellite' amid US claims object is 'tumbling out of control'

According to US officials the object has an unstable trajectory and could crash land back to earth

Confusion continues to surround the operational state of a satellite that North Korea claims it has launched into orbit, amid earlier US reports that the object was 'tumbling out of control'.

Speaking to NBC news a US official said that the device, which was launched at 7.49 p.m. ET on Wednesday, had an unstable trajectory and could crash land back to earth.

The official also confirmed the object is some kind of space vehicle, but that they haven't established what it is supposed to do.

Confused reports over the operational state of the satellite have continued throughout the day with South Korea's defence ministry contradicting the US reports to say that the satellite was orbiting normally at a speed of 4.7 miles (7.6km) per second.

They also, however, confirmed that it is not known what mission it is performing.

Whilst seemingly admitting the object is a space vehicle, the US continued to condemn what they said was a rocket launch, calling it a 'provocative act.'

The United Nations security council have called it a 'clear violation' of UN resolutions. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he “deplores” the launch.

It is thought that the problems with the unidentified object, which North Korea claims is a weather satellite, could cause it to collide with other orbiting vehicles, or indeed come crashing back to back down earth.

Norad, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, detected the launch of the missile at 7.49 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Officials have claimed initially the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea and the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea.

North Korea has claimed that the launch was an attempt to place a satellite into a pole-to-pole orbit.

The official KNCA news agency said the rocket was launched from Sohae Satellite Launch Center and that the Kwangmyongsong weather satellite went into orbit as planned.

US officials, who have not yet identified what the object actually was, have claimed the launch was a thinly veiled attempt to test a three-stage ballistic missile with the ability to hit the US West Coast.

William Hague MP, the British Foreign Secretary, was also among the international figures who described the launch – which defied a world ban on ballistic missile tests – as 'provocative'.

China, which is North Korea's only diplomatic ally, had urged the secretive country not to go ahead with the launch.

Today, Russia added to the international condemnation that greeted the launch: “The new rocket launch carried out by North Korea flaunts the opinion of the international community, including calls from the Russian side,” it said.

In 2009 a one-ton Russian satellite with a nuclear reactor collided with a 1200-pound American orbiter over Siberia. The resultant debris was as large as a school bus and reentered the atmosphere. It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before