David Wright

Articles by David Wright

13 December 2012

Underestimated or overestimated? North Korea’s satellite launch in perspective

David Wright

Despite supposed technical problems with its rocket, North Korea surprised the world this week by launching its Unha-3 rocket and successfully placing a satellite into orbit.

The launch -- using the same rocket, satellite, and trajectory -- was a repeat of last April's attempt, which failed. Overall, it was North Korea's fifth attempt to launch a satellite, and its first success.

12 April 2012

Preview: The North Korean launch

David Wright

In mid-March, North Korea surprised the world by announcing plans to launch a satellite into orbit sometime between April 11 and April 15 (US time), to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim il-Sung, the revered founder and long-time ruler of North Korea. The imminent launch seemed to fly in the face of the announcement two weeks earlier that the United States and North Korea had agreed to a set of steps that included a ban on long-range missile tests by Pyongyang.

23 September 2009

Technical flaws in the Obama missile defense plan

David WrightLisbeth Gronlund

Last Thursday, the Obama administration announced its long-awaited decision on a European missile defense system against potential Iranian ballistic missiles. In short, it will shelve the Bush administration's plan for a defense against intercontinental-range missiles, and instead, it will field a system designed to intercept shorter-range missiles, on which Iran is making quicker progress.

29 June 2009

A post-launch examination of the Unha-2

David WrightTheodore A. Postol

North Korea tested a launch vehicle called the Unha-2 from its Musudan-ri launch site in North Hamgyong province on April 5 local time (April 4, 10:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). Using information that has become available since the test and information from previous tests, we have conducted a technical analysis that leads to a compelling description of the Unha-2 launcher. This analysis suggests both challenges and potential opportunities.

24 March 2009

Examining North Korea's satellite launch vehicle

David Wright

North Korea's announcement that it will attempt to launch a satellite into orbit in early April begs the obvious questions of what launcher it will use and what capability that launcher could give if used as a ballistic missile. The easy answer is that no one in the West knows.

But we can examine North Korea's past missile efforts and the path that other countries such as China have taken to develop satellite launchers and ballistic missiles to understand the range of possibilities for the upcoming launch.1

1 April 2008

Twenty-five years after Reagan's Star Wars speech

David WrightLisbeth Gronlund

On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan made his famous Star Wars speech, announcing his plan to develop a missile defense system that would make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete." His vision of a "shield that could protect us from nuclear missiles just as a roof protects a family from the rain" was both seductive and audacious.

1 October 2007

Space debris from antisatellite weapons

David Wright

The term "outer space" has always inspired visions of vast regions of nothingness. So even 50 years into the space age, people still tend to view space like the early pioneers viewed the Wild West--sparsely populated, and therefore in little need of laws or regulations, and so boundless that no one worried about ruining the environment.