North Korea Test Fires ‘Revolutionary’ Rocket Engine That Can Propel ICBMs

North Korea has upped the ante in their saber-rattling of the free world.

The Associated Press is reporting that the totalitarian regime has just conducted a test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that is supposed to be a “revolutionary breakthrough” in their space program.

Hereditary dictator Kim Jong Un attended a test Saturday at the Sohae launch site, state media reports. They said the test was intended to confirm the “new type” of engine’s thrust power and determine the reliability of it’s control system and stability.

satellite launch map

The Korean Central News Agency reports that Kim called the test “a great event of historic significance.”

He also said the “whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries” and claimed the test marks what will be known as the “March 18 revolution” in the development of the country’s rocket industry.

The engine is supposedly to be used for North Korea’s space and satellite-launching program.

All this is happening while the country is officially banned by the United Nations from conducting any long-range missile tests. It claims, however, it’s satellite program is strictly for “peaceful use,” but few believe that.

North Korean officials have said that under a five-year plan, they intend to launch more Earth observation satellites and what would be the country’s first geostationary communications satellite – which would be a major technological advance.

Getting that kind of satellite into place would likely require a more powerful engine than its previous ones. The North also claims it is trying to build a viable space program that would include a moon launch within the next 10 years.

The test came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in China on a swing through Asia that has been focused on how to deal with Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Earlier this month, the country fired off four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan and there is speculation that they are targeting the Hawaiian Islands.

Tillerson said that military action against North Korea was not off the table.

There are tens of thousands of U.S. troops deployed in South Korea to help defend the country from an aggressive move from the north.

While building ever better long-range missiles and smaller nuclear warheads to pair with them, North Korea has marked a number of successes in its space program.

It launched its latest satellite – the Kwangmyongsong 4, or Brilliant Star 4 – into orbit on Feb. 7 last year, just one month after conducting what it claims was its first hydrogen-bomb test.



Robert Gehl

About Robert Gehl

Robert Gehl is a college professor in Phoenix, Arizona. He has over 15 years journalism experience, including two Associated Press awards. He lives in Glendale with his wife and two young children.

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