North Korea

Much ado about nothing for North Korean space agency Nada

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 9:54pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2014, 2:41am

The choice of a globe as the emblem for North Korea's space agency expresses the country's ideal of peaceful exploration, explains the Korean Central News Agency.

The blue rings, it adds, represent satellites, and the constellation of stars shows the desire to "glorify Kim Il-sung's and Kim Jong-il's Korea as a space power".

The state news agency neglects to mention one glaring fact: the new logo looks a lot like that of Nasa, the space agency of Pyongyang's foe the US, right down to the blue globe, lettering and swooshed ring.

The agency said that the logo was released to mark the first anniversary of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration.

The name is shortened on the emblem to Nada, the Spanish word for "nothing", arguably also an unfortunate coincidence, given that this seems to be precisely what the country's only successfully launched satellite is transmitting to earth, leading foreign scientists to assume that it has malfunctioned.

North Korea's space programme is a source of pride to the hermetic and repressive state.

The orbiting satellite was launched in December 2012 on a three-stage Unha rocket. Unha is Korean for "galaxy".

It was the country's fifth attempt to put a satellite in orbit. North Korean scientists said it would study crops and weather patterns.

While it appeared the satellite was initially orbiting normally, US astronomers said soon afterwards that it was not transmitting and was probably tumbling in its orbit.

North Korea insists its space programme is purely peaceful. But the US and Japan, among others, say North Korea could use the ballistic-missile technology to develop long-range weapons.

The Korean news agency said the nation had "pushed ahead with space-development projects to turn the country into a space power, fully exercising its right to peaceful development of space on a legal basis".

The law establishing Nada calls for co-operation with other nations on space programmes, while rejecting "selectivity and double-standards in space activities and the weaponisation of outer space".