North Korea moves the mobile assembly hall to the middle of the launch pad

Activities related to the transportation of equipment from the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in Dongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province continue to be monitored in North Korea. After the North’s unsuccessful launch of the Chollima-1 missile last Wednesday, they have again promised to make a second attempt to launch a spy satellite. Therefore, there is an observation that they are trying to launch a reconnaissance satellite from a different launch site.

An active mobile assembly building was confirmed citing satellite imagery from Planet Labs on Saturday, according to the Voice of America. A satellite image taken last Monday showed the mobile assembly building operating while in contact with the portal tower (launch pad) at the Seohae satellite launch site. However, it has now been moved to the center of the launch pad. This assembly building can be moved between the main processing building and the launch pad, which are about 140 meters from this position. The VOA reported that this notable change, which involves moving a key facility at the Sohae satellite launch station, is related to North Korea’s pledge to launch a second attempt at a satellite. This activity itself could be an important indicator of launch, even if the mobile assembly hall has moved farther from the launch pad. “The mobile assembly building can move back and forth on a rail laid on the floor,” said Jang Yeong-geun, head of the missile center at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. “Although the reason for its movement is unknown, it could be a sign of an imminent launch.”

Ahead of the launch last month, North Korea moved the mobile assembly building not only from the existing launch site, but also from the new launch site to the launch pad. The satellite was launched from the new launch site, which is 3 kilometers away. Therefore, some analysts speculate that the placement of the mobile assembly hall at the existing launch site may have been a camouflage.

However, since activity can only be detected from the existing launch site, there is an observation that North Korea may have chosen the existing site for its second launch attempt. “There is no guarantee that this activity is not another cover and the military is closely monitoring the situation,” a South Korean government source said. “As North Korea announces its second attempt, we are considering the possibility of another provocation.”

Jin Woo Shin [email protected]