By Kim Soo-yeon
SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's second failure to launch a spy satellite likely serves as a humiliating setback for its leader Kim Jong-un, but the country appears to have solved engine problems over a space rocket, given its vow to make a third attempt in October, experts said.
North Korea launched what it called a military spy satellite, the Malligyong-1, mounted on the Chollima-1 rocket at around 3:50 a.m. from the Tongchang-ri area on the country's west coast.
But about two hours after the launch, the North's state media said the country's second attempt to launch a "military reconnaissance satellite" ended in failure, citing an "error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight."
The North's space development agency said "the cause of the relevant accident is not a big issue in aspect of the reliability of cascade engines and the system," adding that it would conduct the third launch in October, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The latest launch came three months after it made the first botched attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit on May 31, when the rocket crashed into the Yellow Sea after an "abnormal starting" of the second stage.
"North Korea appears to think it is possible to try to relaunch (in October), given there are no problems with the operation of rocket and stage separations," Chang Young-keun, head of the missile center at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said.
Earlier this week, Pyongyang notified Japan of its plan to launch a satellite between Thursday and Aug. 31, and designated three maritime danger zones that could be affected by the launch.
The launch window overlaps with the annual Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States that kicked off Monday for an 11-day run. Pyongyang has long denounced the allies' joint military drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.
The launch also came after the leaders of Seoul, Washington and Tokyo held a trilateral summit at Camp David last week and agreed to beef up cooperation to deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
In terms of the domestic politics aspect, the recalcitrant regime also likely aimed to celebrate its founding anniversary on Sept. 9 with the potentially successful launch of a reconnaissance satellite.
Some experts said the North's leader might have been in hurry to launch the satellite despite cloudy weather ahead of the Day of Songun on Aug. 25, the holiday to commemorate the beginning of his late father Kim Jong-il's military first, or "songun," policy.
"North Korea may make a third attempt for a satellite launch around Oct. 10, the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea," said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies.
He added it would be difficult for Pyongyang to press ahead with the launch beyond October due to unfavorable weather conditions.
Analysts, meanwhile, said North Korea appears to have swiftly acknowledged its botched launch attempt this time as it did in late May in a bid to justify its claim that it is "normally" developing space programs.
"By publicly disclosing relevant information, such as the launch window and failure, North Korea apparently intended to say that it is moving closer to success after trial and errors like other normal satellite-developing countries," said Hong Min, a researcher at the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification.
South Korea and the U.S. condemned North Korea for violating United Nations Security Council resolutions, as Pyongyang is banned from seeking any launches using ballistic missile technology.
Pyongyang has claimed that it has the sovereign right to pursue a space development program.
A military spy satellite is among the high-tech weapons that the North has vowed to develop, which also includes solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear-powered submarine.
Experts said a spy satellite will help the North stage a precision strike against targets in war situations, as it will enhance the country's surveillance capability, but many still have doubts about the North's satellite capabilities.
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