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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor