BBC News is hosting a number of photos from the North Korean news service, which depict a North Korean missile launch. Specifically these figures, which have this description:

Images released by the North Korean news agency show the missile launch, and pictures taken from the missile in space

Are the figures genuine or is there any indication that they might not be?

  • 55
    Your regular reminder that reaching space is relatively easy, it's staying there for any kind of useful amount of time that's difficult
    – Shadur
    Jan 31, 2022 at 14:11
  • 9
    @Shadur Staying in space isn't a typical goal for missiles.
    – TypeIA
    Jan 31, 2022 at 22:48
  • 15
    Is there any reason to be skeptical about this? Amateur rocketry nerds can get to space with rockets they build in their garages, so is it really that surprising that a nation-state can do it? Jan 31, 2022 at 22:54
  • 3
    @JörgWMittag Do you mean something like A Rocket Built by Students Reached Space for the First Time?
    – Laurel
    Feb 1, 2022 at 4:04
  • 8
    @TypeIA Staying in space long enough to reach somewhere useful is.
    – Shadur
    Feb 1, 2022 at 7:04

1 Answer 1


They did, but that's not a big deal

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Appears to Be Its Boldest in Years (New York Times):

The missile launched on [Jan 28th] was fired at a steep angle, reaching an altitude of 1,242 miles while covering a distance of 497 miles, South Korean defense officials said.

The edge of space is only 100 km above the surface of Earth. As Randall Munroe has explained, it's really not that hard for something to get to space. It would be a bigger deal if they had achieved orbit.

  • 2
    I'm confused. 1,242 is 1242 right (2000km)? Because ',' is the American thousand separator? How come the distance is shorter than the altitude? Altitude is also distance from the surface of the earth by definition. Or did they meant horizontal distance only?
    – Mixxiphoid
    Feb 1, 2022 at 7:35
  • 13
    @Mixxiphoid Altitude is height above the launch location, distance is how far away on land the missile landed compared to the launch location.
    – Scot
    Feb 1, 2022 at 8:04
  • So it seems. A source without paywall: web.archive.org/web/20220131142608/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/…
    – pinegulf
    Feb 1, 2022 at 8:31
  • 15
    The implication is that they deliberately chose a high trajectory (near vertical but no danger of landing on their own heads!) to test a long range missile without actually crossing e.g. Japan's territory and raising political tensions more than they had to. Feb 1, 2022 at 13:34
  • 1
    +1 if for nothing else than referencing "What If?"
    – DenisS
    Feb 3, 2022 at 14:14

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