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N Korea plans to launch satellite next month: Report

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SEOUL (BNS): North Korea is planning to launch an Earth observation satellite in April to mark the birth centenary of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, the late grandfather of present leader Kim Jong-un, according to a news report.

The Unha-3 rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite will blast off from the country's satellite launching station in North Pyongan Province between April 12 and 16, South Korean official news agency Yonhap reported Friday quoting the Pyongyang-based Korean Committee for Space Technology as stating.

The launch date is set around the late founder's April 15 birthday, one of the most important holidays in the isolated country, the news report said.

The committee said a safe flight orbit has been chosen so that carrier rocket debris to be generated during the flight would not have any impact on neighboring countries, the report said.

The Kwangmyongsong (Bright star) is an experimental communications satellite developed by North Korea which it says is meant for peaceful space projects.

The first satellite of the series was launched in 1998. In April, 2009, DPRK launched Kwangmyongsong-2 by using the Unha-2 carrier rocket.

The US and South Korea, however, had raised suspicion that the launch was meant to test North Korea's ballistic missile technology and that no object had entered the orbit.

Relations between the two Koreas have remained tense since sinking of a South Korean warship in March, 2010.

While South Korea and the US are holding joint military exercises at regular intervals, North Korea has recently conducted a "combined strike drill" involving its army, navy and air force.


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