“Dual Disconnected Monologues”: NASA Expert James Oberg Visits DPRK Launch Site

[The following are two interviews with James Oberg, NBC “space consultant” and NASA Mission Control veteran. Both were conducted by Ed Flanagan, NBC News Producer, and published on World News on MSNBC.com. The first interview (Monday, 9 April 2012) carried the title NBC space expert on North Korea satellite launch: ‘It’s not a military missile … but it’s darn close’, with the second (Wednesday, 11 April 2012) titled North Koreans desperate for Western approval of launch. –CanKor]

First Interview:

A close up view of North Korea’s Unha-3 rocket at the launch platform of the Tongchang-ri space center. (Photo by Pedro Ugarte, AFP - Getty Images)

When we learned that North Korea was planning on opening its tightly restricted Sohae Satellite Launching Center to foreign journalists for the first time, NBC News quickly decided we would need an expert eye to determine the accuracy and authenticity of Pyongyang’s claim that this latest rocket launch was for peaceful scientific purposes.

North Korea says it is planning to launch a weather observation satellite using a three-stage rocket during mid-April to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. But the United States and South Korea say it is a test of a ballistic missile.

So NBC News invited James Oberg, our “Space Consultant,” to accompany us into North Korea to view the Kwanggmyongsong-1 satellite.

With a 22-year career as a space engineer in support of NASA’s spaceflight operations, Oberg has the experience and technical expertise to determine the veracity of North Korea’s claims about this mission.

NBC sat down with Oberg after visiting the Sohae Satellite Launch Center on Sunday to get his initial impressions of the facility, the mysterious satellite and the future of North Korea’s space program.

Q:  What are your first impressions from this visit to Sohae?

A: It was just amazing to be there, and the impression was that someone in the North Korean government made a very courageous decision to let us in. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: