Saturday, December 01, 2012

North Korea at it again?

Those wacky North Koreans.  Now they are going to launch a polar-orbiting satellite.  It will, of course, be "peaceful."  I would not bet my losing Powerball ticket on their chances of success.  They have failed repeatedly to launch a lower-inclination satellite, and a polar one is harder, not least because you are giving up roughly 1000 miles per hour from the Earth's rotation that you get as a free bonus of you launch eastward. So the rocket needs to be more powerful for the same payload weight.  (Israel, for political reasons, has to launch west, or retrograde, over the Mediterranean, so their Shavit booster has to add power to overcome what is in essence a 1000-mph headwind.) Also, an Earth observation satellite is going to be more complex and presumably heavier than the little propaganda-broadcasting satellites they've already dumped in the Pacific (I call this achieving CLO, or Clam-Level Orbit.)  So I think they have approximtely the same chance I do of being named the next Secretary of Defense (if you're reading this, Mr. President, I actually would take that job.)

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