With all of North Korea’s whacky claims, it’s difficult to believe when they actually make a serious one.
But it seems like they’re dead serious about this one: North Korean space officials say they will land on the moon within the next 10 years.
Kim Jong Un has ordered the country to work on a five-year plan to put more advanced satellites into orbit by 2020, and after that, they’re aiming for an unmanned mission to the moon, and beyond.
Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, told the Associated Press:
Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon.
Hyon said the current five-year plan, at the order of the supreme leader, focuses on launching more Earth observation satellites and its first geostationary communications satellite. Kim Jong Un is also ordering universities to expand programs in order to train rocket scientists.
An unmanned North Korean moon mission in the not-too-distant future may not be as ridiculous as it seems, though. Experts are saying it’s ambitious, but not impossible.
In fact, North Korea has had a number of successes in its space program, as well as, of course, in its development in long-range military missiles.
On Wednesday, it test-fired what was believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile into the seas off Japan, which marks the fourth reported weapons launch the country has carried out in about two weeks.
It launched North Korea latest satellite — the Kwangmyongsong 4, or Brilliant Star 4 — into orbit in February, just one month after conducting what it claims was its first H-bomb test.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told the AP:
…it’s not ridiculous to attempt a moon mission early in your space program.
Given their low flight rate of one mission every few years, I think it is hard to see them succeeding in this in the next five years, but possible to see them attempting it.
We may just be seeing a DPRK flag on the moon soon. Or maybe not.