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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test