Newly launched North Korean satellite out of control

NEW YORK — The North Korean satellite launched into space last week is out of control and most likely dead, astronomers reported Monday.

The apparent failure will not cause the spacecraft to fall quickly back to earth but represents a major setback in Pyongyang’s bid to portray the launch as a patriotic and technological success.

‘‘It’s tumbling, and we haven’t picked up any transmissions,’’ said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks global rocket launches and space activity.


‘‘Those two things are most consistent with the satellite being entirely inactive at this point.’’

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North Korea’s state-run media said nothing about the satellite’s dysfunction, focusing instead on the somber one-year anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il, the longtime leader.

As part of the coverage, state television broadcast video footage of his daughter-in-law that appeared to confirm that a new member of Pyongyang’s notoriously reclusive Kim dynasty is on its way.

The images showed Ri Sol Ju, the wife of the late Kim’s son and successor Kim Jong Un, dressed in a dark flowing dress and walking slowly beside her husband inside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the Pyongyang mausoleum where Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, lie in state.

Although she was wearing a high-waisted, loose-fit traditional ‘‘hanbok’’ dress, and there was no official mention of pregnancy, members of the South Korean media detected what they considered a visibly swollen belly.


The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted a government source as saying that birth was ‘‘imminent.’’