TOKYO, Japan (AP) – North Korea has conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that leader Kim Jong-un is calling a revolutionary breakthrough for the country’s space programme, the North’s state media said Sunday.
Kim attended Saturday’s test at the Sohae launch site, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the test was intended to confirm the “new type” of engine’s thrust power and gauge the reliability of its control system and structural safety.
Kim called the test “a great event of historic significance” for the country’s indigenous rocket industry, the KCNA report said.
He also said the “whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries” and claimed the test marks what will be known as the “March 18 revolution” in the development of the country’s rocket industry.
The report indicated that the engine is to be used for North Korea’s space and satellite-launching programme.
North Korea is banned by the United Nations from conducting long-range missile tests, but it claims its satellite programme is for peaceful use, a claim many in the US and elsewhere believe is questionable.
North Korean officials have said that under a five-year plan, they intend to launch more Earth observation satellites and what would be the country’s first geo-stationary communications satellite – which would be a major technological advance.