Taepodong 2
Launch vehicle Taepodong 2
Launch site Musudan-ri?, North Korea
Date/Time 2006-07-04 20:01 UTC
Description First stage failure?
Cause unknown
Payload unknown
Desired orbit unknown

North Korea has reportedly fired six to 10 missiles, including one newly developed Taepodong-2, into the Sea of Japan on 4 July 2006 (UTC). The others are believed to have been Scud-type short-range missiles and Rodong medium-range missiles. The Taepodong-2 failed about 40 seconds into flight.

According to some observers, it's not even certain that the failure was a failure--they suggest it might have been a test of the vehicle's first stage only, flying with second and third stage mock-ups. The prevailing opinion, however, is that it was a classical launch failure that occurred during the moment of maximum dynamic pressure (Max Q). Reportedly, the rocket also lost its payload fairing.

According to Charles Vick of GlobalSecurity.org, the trajectory taken by the rocket was entirely typical of a satellite launch. U.S. military intelligence officials would only confirm that the rocket was heading eastwards, but because of the short flight duration (between 35 and 42 seconds) it can't be said with certainty whether the flight was actually an attempt to launch a satellite, or whether it was a three stage ballistic missile flight with a dummy warhead.

See also: Build-up to the Taep'o-dong-2C/3 Satellite Launch Attempt

Last updated: 12 July 2006

Launch Failures Chronology