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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests