NADAS's small launcher to testing a camera for reconnaissance satellites

Norbert Brügge, Germany

2022, December 18 --North Korea Space Development Agency (NADA) conducted a test for reconnaissance satellite development at the Seohae Satellite Launching Station.

A spokesperson for the National Space Development Agency said the main purpose was to “evaluate the capabilities of satellite imaging and data transmission systems and ground control systems”.

A satellite payload equipped with 1 color camera with 20m resolution, and a multi-spectral camera, video transmitter, and other supporting equipment  was launched to an altitude of 500 Km.

The National Space Development Agency announced that it would finish preparing the first military reconnaissance satellite by April 2023 (with Unha-X ?).

The launcher used for the test is most likely a modified Hwasong-7 (HS-7) with a diameter of 1.25m from the Nodong series. It has an attached second stage with a short payload unit for the camera equipment.
The altitude reached of 500km is ideal for a future reconnaissance satellite. In the current case, the payload will probably not have reached the required final speed for a stable orbit, despite the second stage (which of course also has its own weight). This was not planned for the test either and the "camera" has already disappeared from orbit.
The published photos of the camera show South Korean territoriy from a vertical perspective, which we can only be explained with an "overflight".
If it had been a ballistic trajectory tangered or passedg South Korea, it would have huge protests.
Therefore I assume a short-term orbit. This means the second stage terminal velocity would have been too slow to maintain an orbit. It may not even have completed a full orbit. Nobody can complain, after all it was a "satellite" that passed South Korea. The first stage would therefore already have fallen back over North Korean territory (according to North Korean indications, slowed down by a parachute). The second stage did the rest and later burned up like the camera equipment.