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North Korea Hopes To Plant Flag On The Moon Within 10 Years ( 215

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Associated Press: In an interview with The Associated Press, a senior official at North Korea's version of NASA said international sanctions won't stop the country from launching more satellites by 2020, and that he hopes to see the North Korean flag on the moon within the next 10 years. "Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon," said Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration. An unmanned, no-frills North Korean moon mission in the not-too-distant future isn't as far-fetched as it might seem. Outside experts say it's ambitious, but conceivable. While the U.S. is the only country to have conducted manned lunar missions, other nations have sent unmanned spacecraft there and have in that sense planted their flags. Hyon said the current five-year plan, at the order of leader Kim Jong Un, focuses on launching more Earth observation satellites and what would be its first geostationary communications satellite -- which, technologically, would be a major step forward. He said universities are also expanding programs to train rocket scientists. "We are planning to develop the Earth observation satellites and to solve communications problems by developing geostationary satellites. All of this work will be the basis for the flight to the moon," Hyon said on July 28, adding that he personally would like to see that happen "within 10 years' time." Meanwhile, North Korea's southern neighbors are planning a similar mission to place a probe in orbit around the moon and a small lander and rover on the surface of the moon by 2020.
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North Korea Hopes To Plant Flag On The Moon Within 10 Years

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  • by drewsup ( 990717 )

    they mean crashing a probe with a flag on it into the moon, well then ,yes, it may be possible!
    I look forward to the flyby photos of the site later :)

    • No. Not even that.

      We're still talking about building a rocket that can reach escape velocity. That's FAR away from their current ability of "getting stuff somehow somewhere near the edge of the atmosphere before it disintegrates".

      • Re:if by "plant" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @04:45AM (#52649591)
        They can buy stuff from the Russians just like we do.
        • Re:if by "plant" (Score:4, Informative)

          by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @05:22AM (#52649655)

          They've tried to get some russian rocket stuff from their brother country in cuba. They failed. []

        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          They can buy stuff from the Russians just like we do.

          This sort of thing isn't hard anymore. The key technologies (advanced materials, computer-aided design and manufacturing, computer guidance systems) are so widely available, and cheap now that even the idea of an embargo or blockade is ridiculous. I just searched for "inconel 718" (a key superalloy used for many aerospace parts) on Alibaba and 19,658 results came back. I wouldn't put chinese materials in my rocket engine, but for the DPRK they will probably work fine. The only obstacle in designing and

      • Re:if by "plant" (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @05:39AM (#52649713) Journal
        Most people don't realise quite how much further the Moon is from where most artificial satellites live. The BBC has a nice demonstration []. The edge of space is generally regarded as about 100km, ISS is at 420km. Hubble at 570km. LEO ends at about 2000km and Earth is still exerting a gravitational pull on you there that's about half as strong as on the ground, so you still need half as much energy to go 1m higher than you did on the ground and you need to have lifted all of the fuel to that height already. GPS satellites are at around 20,200km. Communication satellites are at 35,800km - geosync orbit. Getting satellites up there is really expensive (at least $50k/kg) and there are very few organisations that have the capacity to do it. The Moon is up at 384,000km, over 10 times the distance to geosynchronous orbit. Now, the pull of gravity follows an inverse square law and so falls off quite quickly above geosync, and you get a bit of help from the Moon (you do a transfer orbit and get captured by the Moon), but it's still very hard. There's a reason that only a tiny number of people have ever been to the Moon.

        Even getting something to the point where it could launch a harpoon that would unfurl a flag on the Moon is insanely hard. I'd be very surprised if a company that has about a 50% chance of its short-range missiles exploding on the launchpad and has only just managed to put something vaguely in LEO (and not in its intended orbit) would be able to get there in 10 years.

        • Super interesting. I didn't realize GPS and communication satellites are so far away. In fact, if I had guessed, I would have assumed that the ISS is "so far" away to avoid the orbit of satellites.

          • Re:if by "plant" (Score:5, Informative)

            by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @06:51AM (#52649831)

            You have to remember that about 99% of the rocket burn you do to get into any orbit is SIDEWAYS.

            To just get out of the atmosphere, straight up, is quite cheap - you can do it with a simple sounding rocket - even a balloon assisted one. It takes about 2000 m/s^2 of acceleration from 0 to get above the atmosphere. Then you fall straight back down.

            To actually orbit you need to move sideways - fast enough that at the height you're aiming for you are basically falling off the edge of the earth constantly. The 100km figure is the Karman line, that's the point where the air is too thin to use an aircraft, the rocket power you would need to get enough speed to get lift out of wings is high enough that you would have flown without wings. The actual atmosphere however extends to about 140km - anywhere below that air drag will bring your craft down in days or hours. To orbit at 150km you need to accelarate by about 7400m/s^2 - that's a lot more, and nearly all of it is horizontal acceleration.

            To get into a higher orbit you have to increase your acceleration. Typically this is done in two burns - you start at the lowest point in your orbit and burn - which raises the highest point (this manner minimizes energy and fuel needs). Then orbit to the new high point and do another burn there to raise the low point until you are circularized.
            And all that is without considering timing, you can't just aim at the moon and burn, you are trying to get an orbit that intersect it's orbit and time it so you arrive at the intersecting point at the same time the moon does (nobody wants to spend weeks in orbit waiting for a close encounter).

            And those numbers are based on an equatorial launch into an equatorial orbit - but the moon isn't in an equatorial orbit, it's inclined by almost 30 degrees - and launching into an inclined orbit costs MORE fuel.

            Now on top of all this - nearly all rockets can only be ignited once. It is only the most advanced rockets that can be fired more than once, and then often only 3 or 4 times and real rockets usually have no throttle control. So with anything but the most cutting edge rockets you need a new rocket (which you have to carry along) for every orbital adjustment. A lunar intersect (not even landing) is at least 3 major orbital manoeuvres.

            Now these days we have some more advanced technologies. For orbital adjustment we usually use rockets that are pressure-fed with infinite ignitions - using very cheap and light fuel - they can't get you into space but can steer you once you're there. They are also very hard to build and very weak - so your burns are slow. They often use the same fuel as the mono-propellant steering thrusters you use just to adjust your orientation before burning.

            Then consider there are many dozens of different rocket fuels - all with their pros and cons. Some are self-igniting (which you need for infinite burns rockets) but generally extremely toxic and quite hazardous if not expertly handled (which is what you get from things that ignite themselves), for launching you need high-thrust fuels like kerolox (Russian rockets mostly use kerolox first stages) or Ethanol (US first stages were mostly ethanol based) but those are heavy and takes ridiculous engineering to get the best bang for buck. Then you have your most efficient fuels which are the ultra low-density stuff like hydrogen but those are cryogenic and that means that even with heat-shielded tanks they bleed off once out of the freezer, so you have to use them quickly or they evaporate.

            And through all this there is the tyranny of the rocket equation. Without going into too much detail - the simple answer is that the acceleration you can get out of a given mass of fuel goes down exponentially as the mass goes up. So to lift you need fuel, to lift further you need more fuel but to lift that fuel you need even more fuel - and you get less and less out of each kilogram you add. This is why space exploration uses multiple stages - you burn a bunch of fuel and drop the empty tank and r

            • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

              I'm out of mod points, but that was very informative, thanks. Some of it I knew, e.g. multiple stages, but your last sentence says it all. It doesn't matter how badly you want something, if nature/physics says no, then all you can do is stamp your foot and execute some generals.

              They seem to think that getting to the moon just takes a bigger version of what they've already got, i.e. barely functioning missiles.

              BTW did anyone see the recent bonhams "space history" auction? It included a shuttle guidance compu

            • Re:if by "plant" (Score:4, Insightful)

              by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @07:24AM (#52649901)

              To get into a higher orbit you have to increase your acceleration.

              Umm, no. You have to increase your SPEED (not velocity, just the magnitude of velocity) relative to the ground.

              Assuming a horizontal burn, of course. If you change the direction of the velocity vector to nearly vertical without change the magnitude of the velocity vector, you'll also reach a higher orbit.

              Assuming, of course, in both cases, a second burn to make your new orbit circular when you get as high as you want to get.

              That said, if should be noted that deltaV required to reach LEO is more than half that required to reach the Moon. Or Mars, for that matter. It only takes a few hundred extra m/s to reach Mars than Luna....

              As a well-known scifi writer once said, LEO is halfway to anywhere....

              • >> To get into a higher orbit you have to increase your acceleration.

                > Umm, no. You have to increase your SPEED (not velocity, just the magnitude of velocity) relative to the ground.

                You're right, I put that clumsily. What I meant was you need more acceleration than you need to just get into orbit. Which would be better put as "you need to increase your orbit from there".

                >Assuming a horizontal burn, of course. If you change the direction of the velocity vector to nearly vertical without change th

                • What I meant was you need more acceleration than you need to just get into orbit.

                  Umm, no. Acceleration (the rate of change of velocity) is pretty much irrelevant except to overcome Earth's gravity.

                  What you need is more deltaV (which is NOT acceleration, though I've seen scifi where the author made that mistake). Starting from LEO, an acceleration of 1 mm/s^2 will get you to GEO if you do it long enough. Just as an acceleration of 1km/s^2 will if you want a very short burn.

                  Once you're in LEO, accelerati

                  • by fnj ( 64210 )

                    Now you're just arguing for its own sake. We all know the difference between acceleration and velocity. Since V is the time integral of A, the way you get V is by applying A for a period of time. "More acceleration" to get into a higher orbit is not an incorrect concept.

                    • "More acceleration" to get into a higher orbit is not an incorrect concept.

                      Yes, actually it is. DeltaV is NOT acceleration. What you need to get into a higher orbit is "more deltaV", NOT "more acceleration". Yes, you need to accelerate. But the magnitude (and "higher acceleration" certainly suggests the magnitude of the acceleration, not the duration of same) isn't terribly important beyond a few special cases.

                      Note that you seem to be making the same error of usage that that scifi writer I mentioned ea

                • by chihowa ( 366380 )

                  ...7400m/s^2 of deltaV...

                  You keep mixing up velocity and acceleration. Delta V is literally a "change in velocity" and has units of m/s. It is calculated as (final velocity, m/s) - (initial velocity, m/s).

                  The only time in space travel (using orbital mechanics) that acceleration is important is when timing is critical because you are directly counteracting a decelerating force, as with gravity in a vertical burn or drag in an atmosphere. Timing may also be important when your desired burn time is longer than your burn window, but t

            • by Squiffy ( 242681 )

              "To orbit at 150km you need to accelarate by about 7400m/s^2 - that's a lot more, and nearly all of it is horizontal acceleration."

              What rocket do we have that can pull 740 gees?

            • by Kjella ( 173770 )

              I skimmed most of what you wrote, but if Kim Jong-un just want to "plant" a flag with an impactor the Russians did this in 1959, with a rocket far more primitive and 1/10th the size of Saturn V. Their latest rocket test is roughly the equivalent of a Falcon 1 from 2008, even North Korea can get a rocket in orbit these days so rocket science isn't quite living up to its reputation. Two years later in 2010 the Falcon 9 launched which would actually be overkill for the task, so can North Korea do in ten years

        • Well, yes, but in the end, you needn't get both legs up in a moonshot, so to speak. It's enough to raise your apogee to hit the moon, no need to do the same for your perigee (which is of course mandatory for having a satellite in an orbit). But generally you're of course correct.

          And, well, saying that just 'cause you can't even get something reliably into a LEO means you can't put something on the moon in 10 years is a bit much considering that the US did just that. Of course, we're talking about a global s

          • Re:if by "plant" (Score:4, Interesting)

            by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @07:32AM (#52649921)

            Of course, we're talking about a global superpower that had the world's biggest economy backing it vs. an insignificant backwards nation with a tinpot dictator that can't even feed his people, but it IS possible!

            Easier for them than for us. They know it can be done, and they know what the easy/hard parts of the process require. And the computers they're using are several orders of magnitude more powerful than we used to do Apollo (remember, your smartphone is several orders of magnitude more powerful than the computers aboard Apollo, as well as being several orders of magnitude smaller). For that matter, materials science has improved vastly, and they can take advantage of that extra knowledge as well.

            And, as an aside, remember when "computer" was a job description, not a piece of hardware (hence the old phrase "electronic computer" to distinguish between the machine and the person it replaced)? Nuclear weapons and the first real rockets were developed with computers (the job), not computers (the machine) - NK won't have to go through that hassle....

            • But on the down side it does set your program back a bit if you routinely execute everyone who fucks up or doesn't praise Dear Leader enough. Then there's the constant shortage of pretty much everything, the fact that no sensible country wants to touch you with a ten foot pole and the lack of people with relevant education.

          • Well, yes, but in the end, you needn't get both legs up in a moonshot, so to speak.

            I just imagined some poor lucky North Korean astronaut having both legs amputated to save on weight for the moon trip.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          They could do it with help. Buy some space on a Chinese or Russian mission. Or just buy a whole rocket. Or the tech they need to build their own. Or just the expertise. There are lots of options to make it easier, but of course they have to deal with everyone else not wanting them to have ICBMs.

  • In a few years, after NK shoots Tokyo (by mistake), the great great leader may well be orbiting Earth and even reach the Moon after the harsh retaliation from the West.
    • by flex941 ( 521675 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @09:43AM (#52650383)
      Maybe we could do a Kickstarter campaign to get the eternal leader to Moon. With Flag. Should be easier that with astronauts - no need to bring back anything. One multi-stage rocket + fuel + space suit + flag. Maybe a video camera and an antenna to send the fame back to NK. Cheaper cetainly than current affairs with NK.
  • Its an excuse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @03:27AM (#52649429)
    Its an excuse to test lots of long range missiles capable of carrying large and heavy warheads
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Its an excuse to test lots of long range missiles incapable of carrying large and heavy warheads

  • by SimonInOz ( 579741 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @03:47AM (#52649469)

    I propose planting Kim Jong-un on the moon.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @03:51AM (#52649481)

    But it's kind of a let-down after they put a man on the sun [].

  • It's like the Soviet Union, back from the dead!

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @03:57AM (#52649497)

    but because our Great Leader has no clue how hard it is.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @04:03AM (#52649507)

    They were commenting on Dear Leader's fantastic weight, were saying the he would moon the world and stick the flag where the sun doesn't shine.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @04:09AM (#52649521) Homepage

    Just don't, but say you did.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday August 05, 2016 @04:10AM (#52649523)
    Kim Jong Un has been playing Kerbal Space Program a little too much recently.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The South Korean probe will construct a proxy pylon with which to warp in zealots and stalkers for a four warpgate rush.

    • Yes, and I'm sure he has people working on creating the miraculous Kraken Drive as we speak!
      At which point they will instead decide to colonize Jupiter, so dear leader will have plenty of room for his ever expanding waistline!
  • if they manage to build a rocket that can cross the Pacific in 10 years. They're never leaving orbit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, 2016 @04:52AM (#52649609)

    It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

    Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

    Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

    Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

  • Dear amateur rocket scientists, I have a mission for you.

    Please calculate: what would it take to fire a ballistic flag of, say, 2 kilos, from a cannon or railgun on earth, in order to land it on the moon? Would it be technically feasible to beat the North-Koreans to this with a Kickstarter project? ;)

    • Required muzzle velocity would be about 11100 m/s. Which is rather more than twice as high as any cannon/railgun ever made.

      And really, why bother. Design a rocket that can go from LEO to Lunar impact, then pay SpaceX to put it on top of one of their "previously used" Falcon 9 first stages (for the big discount. and did everyone notice that they testfired one of those previously used first stages with a full-power burn as long as the normal launch burn? And are planning on reusing one of the other four

      • by zmooc ( 33175 )

        Isn't that actual escape velocity? Our flag doesn't need to escape Earth's gravity; it only needs to get far enough for the Moon's gravity to take over and the Moon is well within Earth's gravity well.

        • Two things:

          1) I rounded a bit. On purpose.

          2) Escape speed from the ground: 11175 m/s.

          Actual horizontal speed required from the ground to reach Luna's orbit (which is 384400 km, about): 10992 m/s. Ignoring atmosphere, of course.

          Note that that second number is only 183 m/s slower than the first.

          As to "getting far enough for the Moon's gravity to take over". You can design a path that does that. It requires a midcourse burn, which doesn't fit within the definition of a "cannon". And it saves you

          • by fnj ( 64210 )

            Seriously, the Moon may look like it's "well within Earth's gravity well", but in terms of velocities, it really is pretty close to the outer edge of same.

            I assume you're well aware that a gravity well is asymptotic and has no "outer edge" at all.

            • You assume correctly. But since I was responding to someone who used the phrase "well within Earth's gravity well", I felt it necessary to use terms similar to his.

              Note, by the by, that when you're in free fall (most of the time in space unless you're using an ion drive or something similar), the only thing that really matters when defining "the outer edge" or "well within" a gravity well is how close you are to escape speed (note that "escape velocity" is misleading in some ways - the only way the direct

    • How about to fire a ballistic Flag from the US, around the moon and back to earth to plant the US Flag in Kimmy boy's front driveway (and share pictures of the lunar fly-by)? The lunar trip would both be in your face and eliminate any risk of it being identified before impact as coming from us.
  • What the hell would they need that for? They aren't allowed to talk to anyone outside the very compact and contiguous borders of NK, so why bother? You don't need a satellite to talk to someone 200 miles away. Terrestrial radio is far more efficient and effective for a tiny, technologically underdeveloped, nation like NK. If they even managed to get it into orbit, what the hell would they do with it?
  • Its Korea, are we sure he doesn't have a crush on Sung myung moon, and planting flag means ......
    • Its Korea, are we sure he doesn't have a crush on Sung myung moon, and planting flag means ......

      ... forcing her to ingest silver nitrate and *censored* into *REALLY, REALLY CENSORED*. ;)

      P.S. Sorry, I had to. Uncontrollable.

  • I think a child-like behavioral response is due if they en bother with it...

    They will announce that a flag has been planted and bask in their glory. The rest of the world will not acknowledge; basically just ignore like they haven't even heard about it. If mentioned, response is, "Huh? What are you talking about?"

    Let them bask in their loss of "capital" or whatever Korean monies are measured on. They should know by now that the world plays daily on a "game" to assure life. This is, please pardon exampl

  • For the eventual photo of Kim Jung Un actually planting the flag personally on the moon.

    He won't be wearing a spacesuit however. Being a god he doesn't require air, but he occasionally breaths so that he might feel closer to his subjects...

    The launch vehicle will be named "Pegasus" because it will be an actual Pegasus that Kim Jung Un tamed using his natural charisma.

  • Yeah, photoshop is probably a lot cheaper than a real manned moon shot.

  • This is coming from a country that struggles to launch two missiles simutaneously without one undergoing RUD.

    It's not even like the Rodong is new technology, it's basically a stretched version of the Scud B (SS-1), which itself has been in service since 1964. Not just that, North Korea has had since the mid 1980s to get it to work.

  • Bet you five bucks that if Best Korea, somehow, manages to properly land something on the Moon, they proceed to claim the entire Moon for North Korea.

    Contingency wager: Another five bucks says once they've claimed the Moon as their property, they announce plans to build a colony (read as: military base) on the Moon.
  • I mean, I saw last year articles that said they had done this from their news agency

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry