National Aerospace Technology Administration
NATA logo
Agency overview
Formed1 April 2013; 10 years ago (2013-04-01)
Preceding agency
JurisdictionGovernment of North Korea
Agency executive

National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA; Korean국가항공우주기술총국) is the official space agency of North Korea, succeeding the Korean Committee of Space Technology (KCST). It was founded on 1 April 2013.[1] Formerly called the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), it changed its name in September 2023 following the 9th Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly.[2]

NATA celebrate with Kim Jong Un following launch of Malligyong-1.

The current basis for the activities of NATA is the Law on Space Development, passed in 2014 during the 7th session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly. The act sets out the North Korean principles of the development of space capabilities as it relates to the principles of the North Korean Juche ideology and independence, as well as the aim of solving scientific and technological problems of space exploration to improve its economy, science, and technology.[citation needed]

The law also regulates the position of NATA and the principles of notification, security, research, and possibly[clarification needed] compensation in relation to satellite launches. The law calls for the cooperation with international organizations and other countries, equality and mutual benefit, and respect for international law and international regulations for space. The law also opposes the militarization of space.[citation needed]

Korean Committee of Space Technology

Further information: Korean Committee of Space Technology

Unha-3 Rocket on 8 April 2012 in Sohae

In 1980, KCST, the executive space agency of North Korea, began research and development with the aim of producing and placing communications satellites, Earth observation satellites, and weather observation satellites into orbit.[3]

International legal regime of the DPRK's space activities

In 2009, North Korea signed the Outer Space Treaty, and the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space Objects.[4]

In 2016, North Korea accepted the Rescue Agreement, an international agreement setting forth rights and obligations of states concerning the rescue of persons in space, as well as the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.[3]


NATA's previous emblem consisted of a dark blue globe with the word Kukgaujugaebalkuk (National Space Development Administration) in white Korean letters on the bottom, DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) in light blue letters on the top, the constellation of Ursa Major, NADA in white letters in the middle, and two bright blue rings symbolizing satellite orbits and the intention of place on all orbits of satellites. The logo was described as representing the agency's "character, mission, position, and development prospect". Ursa Major was intended to symbolize and glorify North Korea as a space power.[1][5]

Western media pointed out that the logo bore a striking resemblance to NASA's logo — both have blue globes, white lettering, stars, and swooshed rings.[6][7]

NATA's new logo includes an additional red stripe, similar to NASA's.[8]

Space Launch Vehicles


Main article: Paektusan (rocket)

North Korea's first orbital space launch vehicle.

Unha-1, Unha-2, Unha-3 and Kwangmyŏngsŏng (Unha-4)

Main article: Unha

The Unha is a North Korean family of expendable carrier rockets. The Unha-1, Unha-2, Unha-3, and Unha-4 (Kwangmyŏngsŏng) have a wider first stage, comparable to that of the Simorgh.


Chollima-1 is a three-stage rocket based on the Hwasong-17 ICBM.[9]

Launch history

Launch history
Satellite Launch Date
Rocket Launch Site Status Purpose
Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1[10] 31 August 1998 Paektusan Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground Failed to reach orbit Technology experimental satellite
4 July 2006 Unha-1 Launch Failure Rocket test (See 2006 North Korean missile test)
Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 5 April 2009 Unha-2 Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground Failed to reach orbit Communications satellite
Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3[11] 13 April 2012 Unha-3 Sohae Satellite Launching Station Launch Failure Observation satellite
Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2 12 December 2012 Unha-3 Sohae Satellite Launching Station Successful launch Observation satellite
Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 7 February 2016 Kwangmyŏngsŏng (Unha-4) Sohae Satellite Launching Station Successful launch Observation satellite
Malligyong-1 #1 30 May 2023 Chollima-1 Sohae Satellite Launching Station Launch Failure Military reconnaissance satellite
Malligyong-1 #2 23 Aug 2023 Chollima-1 Sohae Satellite Launching Station Launch Failure Military reconnaissance satellite
Malligyong-1 #3 21 Nov 2023 Chollima-1 Sohae Satellite Launching Station Successful Launch Military reconnaissance satellite

North Korea's Deep Space Exploration Program

The future Unha-20 will be able to place 20 tons into low Earth orbit. It will also be used by the North Korean Deep Space Exploration Program, to explore the Moon, Mars, and other destinations.[12]

North Korean Lunar Exploration Program (Korean: 조선달탐사, 朝鮮月探索: NKLEP)

Phase 1: lunar orbiter

South Korean internet newspaper Jaju Minbo carried an article on 23 March 2012 stating that North Korea is likely to launch a lunar exploration satellite.[13]

Phase 2: lunar lander

In an interview with The Associated Press, a senior official[who?] said on 4 August 2016 that North Korea will begin designing a lunar orbiter and lunar lander immediately after launching a geostationary communications satellite as planned in the Second Space Development Five-Year Plan.

North Korea stated its ambition to land a probe on the Moon.[12]

Phase 3: lunar sample return mission

As a prerequisite paving the way for a crewed Moon landing, the third phase of the NKLEP would be to return rock samples to Earth with a robotic probe as illustrated by an orbital trajectory schematic seen in 2015 at the Pyongyang Science-Technology Complex.[dubious ] Planned for a launch sometime after 2026, the mission will use a heavy Unha-20 booster able to place it into a lunar trajectory orbit. The landing of the return capsule would be in the Pacific Ocean.[14]

North Korean Mars Exploration Program (Korean: 조선화성탐사, 朝鮮火星探索: NKMEP)

Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration, said that North Korea also intends "to do manned spaceflight and scientific experiments in space, make a flight to the moon and moon exploration and also exploration to other planets."[12]

Future projects

Mockup of future DPRK shuttle at Mangyongdae Children's Palace

In 2009, North Korea announced more ambitious future space projects, including its own crewed space flights and the development of a partially reusable crewed shuttle launch vehicle mockup, which was displayed at Mangyongdae Children's Palace.[15]

In 2016, Hyon Kwang Il, director of NADA's scientific research department, said they planned to launch more satellites before 2020, including a geostationary satellite. He also said that he hoped they would "plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon" within 10 years.[16]

In 2017, NADA officials unveiled two proposals for upcoming satellites, one of which is an Earth remote-exploration satellite weighing over 100 kg, with spatial resolution capabilities of several meters. The second is a satellite in a proposed geostationary orbit for communication, with an estimated weight of at least one short ton.[17] Various media outlets have reported that North Korea was in the process of completing one of the two satellites, dubbed "Kwangmyongsong-5", however the expected launch date has yet to be determined.[18][19][20]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pearlman, Robert (2 April 2014). "North Korea's 'NADA' Space Agency, Logo Are Anything But 'Nothing'".
  2. ^ "KCNA | Article | 9th Session of 14th SPA of DPRK Held". Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Martyn (21 April 2023). "North Korea's Space Agency at Ten". 38 North. The Henry L. Stimson Center. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  4. ^ "KCNA Report on DPRK's Accession to International Space Treaty and Convention". Korea News Service (KNS). Archived from the original on 2 April 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  5. ^ "National Aerospace Development Administration of DPRK". Korea News Service (KNS). Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  6. ^ "North Korea names space agency 'NADA,' mimics NASA logo". CNET. 2 April 2014.
  7. ^ "North Korea's space agency's logo means nothing — literally". Business Insider. 9 February 2016.
  8. ^ 北朝鮮 「朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国家航空宇宙技術総局報道、偵察衛星成功裡に発射 (조선민주주의인민공화국 국가항공우주기술총국 보도정찰위성 성공적으로 발사)」KCTV 2023/11/23 字幕, retrieved 25 November 2023
  9. ^ "Chŏllima 1", Wikipedia, 23 November 2023, retrieved 25 November 2023
  10. ^ "Despite Clinton, Korea has rights". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  11. ^ Levs, Josh (12 December 2012). "N. Korea's launch causes worries about nukes, Iran and the Pacific". CNN. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "≪자주시보≫ [개벽예감220] 달탐사계획 앞당긴 대출력 로켓엔진 백두산-1". 자주시보.
  13. ^ "S. Korean Newspaper Praises DPRK's Planned Satellite Launch". Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  14. ^ "조선소년단 제8차대회 참가자들 만경대방문, 여러곳 참관- (6)". 5 June 2017 – via Flickr.
  15. ^ "朝鲜宣布发展太空计划抗衡"西方强权"". Rodong Sinmun. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Talmadge, Eric (4 August 2016). "North Korea hopes to plant flag on the moon". AP. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  17. ^ "North Korean plans for two new satellite types revealed | NK News". 8 December 2017.
  18. ^ "North Korea preparing to launch satellite Kwangmyongsong-5, says report". 26 December 2017.
  19. ^ "North Korea preparing to launch satellite". The Straits Times. 26 December 2017.
  20. ^ Panda, Ankit. "Why North Korea Is Likely Planning a Satellite Launch in 2018".