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North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher Unha-20 V1.1
North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher Unha-20 V1.1

First posted 26 January 2019; Updated 22 March 2019

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Earlier Artistic Representation of North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Manned
3. Recent Artistic Representation of Iran's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Manned
4. Latest Artistic Representation of North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Unmanned
5. North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher Unha-20: Overview
6. Sea Launch Platform
7. North Korean Lunar Exploration Program (조선달탐사: NKLEP)

1. Introduction

Pictures of a new North Korean launcher have been revealed for more than two decades now, similar to the Soviet-era Energia heavy-lift partially recoverable launch system designed for a variety of payloads including the Buran spacecraft.

It is only recently that Iran has disclosed its own version, thus confirming the existence of this still secret joint Irano-North Korean project.

2. Earlier Artistic Representation of North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Manned

[Image: ?temp_hash=c4697492aaa386b6172c2c1cf3a0ecfa] ; ; ;
▲ North Korean Space shuttle model in the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace that was opened in 1989.

3. Recent Artistic Representation of Iran's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Manned

An Iranian version of the North Korean Heavy-Lift Space Launcher has figured prominently in a huge graphic that is currently (January 2019) displayed in Tehran's Valiasr Square. The billboard is running in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

[Image: proxy_006.1553224298.jpg] ; ;; ; رونمایی از جدیدترین دیوارنگاره میدان ولیعصر با موضوع جوانان
▲ 17 January 2019. Note that Shahid Hajj General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the father of Iran's space program is depicted bringing a treasure trove of [North Korean] blueprints to his fellow countrymen!

4. Latest Artistic Representation of North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher: Unmanned

As of June 2018, the heavy-lift space launcher is no longer associated with a space shuttle, but instead the lunar exploration program. And the robotic exploration of its surface.

[Image: 42507168561_c34e89aa09_b.jpg] ; 《전국소년과학환상문예작품 및 모형전시회-2018》 개막_2 ; ; ; 조선소년단창립 72돐 경축행사 대표들 만경대 방문, 여러곳 참관_16 ;  Uploaded on June 8, 2018 ; ;
▲ North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher and the robotic exploration of the lunar surface. Uploaded on June 2, 2018

Two main rocket engines developing possibly 150-200 ton-force of thrusts each are powering the first stage. Two strap-on boosters are seen, possibly developing 1,000 ton-force each and made of the Qaem solid propellant booster.
Therefore allowing a 20 tons payload in LEO, or 5 tons in LTO.

5. North Korea's Heavy-Lift Space Launcher Unha-20: Overview

The future CZ-5-class North Korean heavy launcher, should be able to put 20 tons in LEO, to land a probe on the Moon and return rock samples, to reach Mars and beyond.

Hinted for the first time in circa April 15, 2017. Assuming that "20" of the Unha-20 (은하20호, 銀河二十號: Milky Way-20) refers to 20 tons payload.

Claiming that a heavy launcher's core booster could be 9 meters in diameter [that is the diameter of Tonghae Space Center LC-2] simply doesn't take into consideration that North Korea's rail delivery from the rocket factory to the launch center, limits the absolute maximum diameter to ~ 4 meters.

Thus the need to cluster several boosters in parallel, in order to increase the total first stage thrust.

To overcome this diameter upper limit, an alternative strategy would be to develop delivery by sea, since both Sohae SLC and Tonghae SLC are built with a seashore, thus unlocking larger diameters of 5 meters core boosters.

An image dated from April 15, 2017 has disclosed three generations of North Korean space launchers: the KWANGMYONGSONG SLV aka Unha-4, an Unha-9 and the mysterious Unha-20.

[Image: ?temp_hash=d93afcf6c9127c9cfefd609a077d6185] ; ;
▲ One image, three generations of North Korean space launchers. Center: notice the KWANGMYONGSONG SLV aka Unha-4 represented left of a huge (meaning at least twice the size) Unha-9 SLV. Unha-20s are pillar-sized! April 15, 2017 picture.

[Image: ?temp_hash=d0be8791dce9b7edc2f96aa6827de31c] ; ;

▲ Artistic representation of the North Korean Unha launchers family, 2019. Outdated as of Mid-February 2019.

North Korean Unha launchers family as of mid-February 2019:
  • 1. A mobile launcher for the possible Kwangmyongsong-5 satellite, I designated as Unha-5 SLV for clarity. Itself an adaptation of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, and also the second stage of the Unha-9 SLV.

  • 2. A manned single-seater suborbital E1 capsule, atop its launcher derived from the Unha-5 SLV.

  • 3. The Unha-9 SLV.

  • 4. The manned Unha-9 SLV with an orbital version of the single seater E1 capsule.

  • 5. And improved Unha-9, I designated as Unha-9B, with a larger and more powerful second stage, maybe cryogenic stage.

  • 6. And improved Unha-9 with four liquid propellant strap-on boosters, doubling the total liftoff thrust. I designated the Unha-18 for clarity. Associated with the orbital 3-seaters F1 capsule.

  • 7. The Qaem solid propellant SLV. Korean name still unknown.

  • 8. The Heavy-lift Unha-20.

  • 9. The ultra-heavy-lift solid propellant SLV. I designated as Unha-27 for clarity.
Unha-20's Main Engine


In this regard, it can be seen that the high-power liquid rocket engine developed and completed by North Korea is the first liquid rocket engine of the Paektusan series, and its name is Paektusan-1 according to the North Korean naming practice. If we develop a modified version of the Paektusan-type liquid rocket engine, which will further improve the performance of the aerospace industry, it will be called Paektusan-2.

[Image: 2016092612548924.png] ; ;
▲ The photo shows a table used by Supreme leader Kim Jong Un, who was placed at the observing station installed near the static test stand.
"백두산계렬 80tf급 액체로케트(발동기): Paektusan Series 80 tf liquid rocket (engine)" is written in red. Note, the world "engine" is out of the camera's field!
The title of the explanatory note indicates that the high-power liquid rocket engine developed and completed at this time is 80 ton-force liquid rocket engine. Ju Shobo and Han Ho Seok

North Korea's Paektusan-2 rocket engine should develop more thrust than the current Paektusan-1B's 100 ton-force, possibly in the ~200 ton-force (?):

According to a March 20, 2017 report, Korean military experts analyzing the thrust of the new liquid rocket engine shown in the DPRK photographs, evaluated the liquid rocket engine as a 100-ton-force rocket engine.
The 100-ton-force is 980 kilo Newtons. The 80-ton-force liquid rocket engine appeared on the static ground test on September 19, 2016, and the 100-ton-force liquid rocket engine appeared on the static ground test conducted on March 18, 2017. As a result, it can be seen that, as of September 2017, the Paektusan liquid rocket engine series was developed as an 80 ton-force type in 2016 and a 100 ton-force type in 2017, respectively.

6. Sea Launch Platform

Quote:It is impossible to launch commercial communication satellite from the Korean latitude ... Maritime space launch

입력 : 2013.02.02 03:06

The Sohae Space Center is suitable for launching low orbit satellites such as earth observation satellites, but it can not launch communication satellites or meteorological satellites. These satellites are launched from the equator. The answer is the the Pacific Ocean's equator.

The global space market is worth $ 177.3 billion in 2011. 60% of them are satellite services using communication satellites.

Geostationary satellites orbit in the Earth's rotation direction. The equatorial orbit has the highest rate of rotation of the earth. If you launch satellite into the equatorial orbit, you can use less energy with the help of the Earth's rotation speed.

When launched from Korean space center, the space launcher has to turn 30 degrees or so to fly a long distance, so energy consumption is incredibly high. It is also possible that the first stage rocket may fall to Japan because it has to fly toward the equator.

If the rockets use less fuel, the satellites can weigh more. This is why France has secured half of the global satellite launches, because it has built its space launch site in Kourou, in the equatorial colony of Guiana.

First hinted by an equivalent South Korean concept, as launching from near the equator would both improve the payload capability and reduce tensions with neighbouring nations produced by the launcher's overflight and drop zones.

Since North Korea is surrounded by hostile nations in the East and South, and has a maritime access to the South Oceans.

Converting one of the many North Korean 14,000t-class offshore platforms from the North Korean booming oil industry into a launch platform, would be the quickest way for North Korea to launch satellites from the Equator.

[Image: 2017073144403381.jpg] ;
▲  China Ocean Oil Corporation has surprised the world by announcing that there is an estimated 7.15 billion tons of crude oil in the Korean West Sea continental shelf.
This photo shows the 14,000t-class offshore platform owned by CNPC, a state-owned Chinese company, leaving the Dalian port in China on May 22, 2016.
This offshore platform is located in the waters 3 km inside the exclusive economic zone of North Korea, on the continental shelf of the Korean Sea.
According to the report, the annual output of the oil well No. 606 in the West Sea is 19,700 tons and the annual production of the well No. 609 is 152,000 tons. There are at least 10 such wells on the continental shelf belonging to the exclusive economic zone or territorial waters of North Korea's West Sea.

[Image: 2015081018133853753.jpg] ; ; 2015-08-10 18:19:10 ;
▲ North Korean sea-launches the only way to launch commercial satellites.

[Image: northkorea.jpg]
▲ Conquering the South Seas, the key for unlocking North Korea's future space superpower status!

7. North Korean Lunar Exploration Program (조선달탐사: NKLEP)

One of the main use for such a heavy-lift space launcher will be the industrial development of outer space resources.

[Image:] ; ; 최고인민회의 대의원들 조선혁명박물관과 평양시내 여러곳 참관 ; ; ; 최고인민회의 대의원들 조선혁명박물관과 평양시내 여러곳 참관_2 ; Uploaded on April 11, 2018
▲ April 11, 2018. Representatives of the Supreme People's Assembly visited the North Korean Revolution Museum and various places in Pyongyang.

[Image: 35069110586_128ceef6a2_b.jpg] ; ;
▲ Schematics of the orbital trajectory of the North Korean Lunar Exploration Program Phase III: lunar sample-return mission.
Launched with a heavy-lift Unha-20 booster able to place 5t into a LTO, sometimes after 2026. Splash landing of the return capsule in the Pacific Ocean.
Participants in the 8th Congress of the Korean Children's Union visiting the Science-Technology Complex in Pyongyang, on June 5, 2017.

North Korean Lunar Exploration Program Video

[Image: ?temp_hash=420d93a92ed523599890ca8b929a4fa8] ; ;
▲ Video Published on Oct 28, 2015. Now censored. Note: At t=666 seconds (11m06s), possibly the section dedicated to the future North Korean lunar exploration program (Unha-9, Unha-20), as disclosed back in 2012; Hint at future Phase Three with lunar lander and sample-return. ;
▲ Uncensored backup video: At T=3m06s section dedicated to the future North Korean lunar exploration program (Unha-9, Unha-20), as disclosed back in 2012; Hint at future Phase Three with lunar lander and sample-return.

[Image: vlcsnap-2018-02-26-02h26m27s818.1553226285.png] ; ; 학생소년들의 2018년 설맞이공연 《세상에 부럼없는 행복의 노래》 ; 조선의 오늘 ; ; Published on Jan 1, 2018 ;
▲ Video screen capture at T=40:02 a North Korean lunar astronaut inside a spacecraft called Milaeho (미래호, 未來號: future, pending), from a New Year 2018 show. Video published on Jan 1, 2018

[Image: 38564306055_85e094d810_b.jpg] ; ; ;
▲ 10 North Korean astronauts in a Lunar base, using lasers to thwart meteor showers, as depicted in a New Year 2018 show

[Image: ?temp_hash=f0696981e316a621e41a6aa89fd1d229] ;
▲ Official and ambitious goal of North Korea's space program, the exploitation of the lunar rare earths reserve.

[Image: 4.gif]
[Image: North_Korea.gif][Image: Iran.gif]

[Image: ?temp_hash=a1e6d940f63c1ef1a53f20fa46b82732]
[Image: cool_thumb.gif]


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