N. Korea releases rare photos of botched spy satellite launch

North Korea on Thursday released rare photos of its failed attempt to launch its first military spy satellite in an apparent bid to stress that it was not a test of a weapons system.

The photos, released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), show Pyongyang's new "Chollima-1" rocket carrying the military reconnaissance satellite, "Malligyong-1," taking off from the country's rocket launching station on the west coast.

The North fired what it claims to be a "space launch vehicle" southward Wednesday, but it fell into the Yellow Sea after an "abnormal flight," according to Seoul's military.

The launching site in the photos appeared to be significantly different from the existing launch pad at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground. It is presumed to be a new seaside site located some 3 kilometers away from the main launch pad.

The photos also showed the upper part of the vehicle looks somewhat blunt and wider than the main body, an indication that the rocket carried a satellite instead of a warhead. The North's missile warhead is usually slimmer than the body.

At least two lines of rocket plume were discernible in the photos in a sign that the rocket was powered by several clustered engines.

Observers said the North may have disclosed the photos and made a swift confirmation of the failure to stress that Wednesday's was aimed at testing a satellite, not a weapons system.

The photos have so far been distributed only through the KCNA, the North's state media for the outside audience. The North has yet to make any confirmation on the failure in state media outlets for the local audience, such as the Rodong Sinmun, its main newspaper.

Earlier in the day, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, vowed that Pyongyang will "correctly" place a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit soon.

Source: Yonhap News Agency