South Korea’s military confirmed it tested a solid-fuel rocket on Friday after its unannounced launch sparked a brief public scare of a suspected UFO sighting or North Korean missile launch.
The Department of Defense said in a statement that the rocket launch was part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance capability and strengthen its defense posture.
He said he did not notify the general public of the launch in advance because it involved sensitive military security issues.
A winding tendril of vapor in a white to red shade could be seen snaking behind bright white light in parts of the South Korean sky on Friday evening. South Korean social media and websites were abuzz with posts from citizens who reported seeing a hovering object, rainbow-colored vapor trail or other mysterious lights. Some also posted photos and videos.
“What is that? Is it a UFO? I’m scared,” one Twitter user said. Another said he suspected it was a North Korean missile launch and was worried about a war. Others suspected it was a drone light show or some supernatural phenomenon.
South Korean emergency offices and police have received hundreds of reports from citizens of a suspicious flying object and mysterious lights across the country, according to local media.
The South Korean rocket launch came four days after the South accused the North of flying five drones across the rivals’ border on Monday for the first time in five years. The South Korean military detected the drones but failed to shoot them down, causing security concerns regarding its air defense network. The army then issued a rare apology for this.
South Korean officials have said they plan to use a solid-fuel rocket to orbit the country’s first spy satellite. In March, South Korea conducted its first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket.
Solid-fuel rockets reduce launch times, have simpler structures and are cheaper to develop and manufacture than liquid-fuel rockets, South Korean officials said.
The Department of Defense said Friday’s launch was a follow-up test to the March launch.
North Korea is also pushing to develop its first military surveillance satellite and other high-tech weapons systems to deal with what it calls U.S. hostility. Earlier this year, North Korea carried out a record number of missile tests in what experts call a bid to hone its nuclear weapons technology and bolster its influence in future relations with the United States.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)