international news

North Korea’s Satellite Doesn’t Work Very Well

If it came as a surprise that North Korea had successfully launched a satellite into orbit after a history of unsuccessful attempts, it will come as less of a surprise that the thing doesn’t work very well. NBC News cites U.S. officials who said it was “tumbling out of control,” but didn’t elaborate much. CNN’s slightly more detailed report notes that, “since there are issues about control, the United States is not certain the satellite is in a fully stable orbit.” That network’s source “cautioned the satellite could stay in its relatively low altitude orbit for months before either burning up or falling back to Earth.” North Korea says it’s a weather satellite, but the West is pretty convinced the satellite launch was a thinly disguised ballistic missile test. Gizmodo points out that the lack of control over the satellite means that it could potentially smash into other satellites that are up there actually working. But it also means Pyongyang hasn’t really mastered the precision guiding systems required to deliver nuclear warheads to targets, so that’s good. If you’re curious to see where the thing is right now, you can track it right here.