North Korea announced Thursday, August 24 that its second attempt in three months to put a spy satellite into orbit had failed, and promised to try again in October.

The National Aerospace Development Administration of North Korea “conducted the second launch of the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite aboard the new-type carrier rocket Chollima-1 at the Sohae satellite launch site in the county from Cholsan of North Phyongan province at dawn on August 24,” the official KCNA news agency said.

“Phases one and two of the rocket’s flight were normal, but the launch failed due to an error in the emergency firing system during the third phase of flight,” according to KCNA. According to the agency, “the cause of the accident in question is not a major problem”, and Pyongyang will carry out a third launch in October after taking corrective measures.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida first announced on X (ex-Twitter) that Pyongyang had fired “a suspected ballistic missile”, which entered Japanese airspace near the Okinawa archipelago.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, later said Pyongyang fired “what the North claims was a space launch vehicle”. The craft was launched in a southerly direction and “crossed international airspace” over the Yellow Sea, he said.

“Our military remains on high alert in coordination with the United States, while strengthening our level of security,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff added. On Tuesday, Pyongyang told Japan that the launch would take place between August 24 and 31, prompting Tokyo to mobilize ships and put its PAC-3 missile defense system on alert.

Seoul called such a launch “illegal” because it violates UN sanctions barring North Korea from testing using ballistic technology, which is employed for both space and missile launches. The shooting came days after US, South Korean and Japanese leaders held a summit in the United States, with North Korea’s nuclear threats on the agenda.

According to Washington, this launch would violate UN Security Council resolutions. “We urge North Korea to refrain from further illegal activity and call on Pyongyang to engage in serious and sustained diplomatic engagement,” a State Department spokesperson said.

On May 31, North Korea attempted to launch what it described as its first military reconnaissance satellite, but the rocket carrying it crashed into the Yellow Sea minutes after takeoff. The South Korean military, after a complex 36-day operation at sea, eventually recovered parts of the rocket and satellite. After review by South Korean and American experts, the South Korean Ministry of Defense had determined that the satellite had “no military utility”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of a military spy satellite a priority to “address the dangerous military actions of the United States and its vassals”.

Washington and Seoul suspect for their part Pyongyang of developing a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which includes technologies similar to that of a satellite launcher.

This new launch by Pyongyang coincides with Ulchi Freedom Shield, the name given to the large-scale US-South Korean maneuvers which began on Monday and are due to run until August 31. According to the three allies, these exercises aim to respond to the growing threats from North Korea, which has nuclear weapons.