North Korea claims first satellite launch

North Korea claims it has successfully put an experimental communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, into orbit on Sunday 5 April using the Unha-2 rocket carrier, although the US Department of Defense says the launch was a failure.

The North Korean state-run news agency says the country's leader Kim Jong-il witnessed the launch, which it says took place at 11:20 local time (20:20 GMT). The satellite was in orbit 9min 2s after the launch and began to play revolutionary songs almost immediately, it says.

"It is sending to the Earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans 'Song of General Kim-Il Sung' and 'Song of General Kim Jong-il' and measured information at 470Mhz. By the use of the satellite, the relay communications is now under way by UHF frequency band," says the Korea Central News Agency.

It also says the satellite was "going round the Earth along its elliptic orbit at an inclination of 40.6° at 490km (788 miles) perigee and 1,426km apogee. Its [orbital] cycle is 104min and 12s. Mounted on the satellite are necessary measuring devices and communications apparatus."

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