Sohae Satellite Launching Station: Work Begins on the Vertical Engine Test Stand
Recent commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station indicates that major construction has started on the vertical engine test stand (VETS)—the country’s largest liquid-fuel engine test stand. Efforts to enhance and expand the complex have been underway for approximately eight months already, as previously directed by Kim Jong Un. This has included an overhaul of the rocket launch pad, the building of a new tunnel connecting the complex to support facilities to the east, the razing of the former launch control building in the VIP housing area and construction of a new facility there, the addition of a new rail depot just north of the Sohae complex, and new roadways both inside and outside of the complex. However, until now, the VETS had remained relatively unchanged. With this development, work is now well underway at all the major facilities within the complex.
Vertical Engine Test Stand (VETS) Activity
As of October 24, only minor activity had taken place at the VETS, despite major construction at other key facilities throughout the Sohae complex. This included building a new access road to the test platform area and removing all support vehicles associated with past tests from the test stand apron.
By November 13, significant activity on the test stand itself was underway. Specifically, the rail-mounted environmental shelter, used for both protection of the engines (when loaded) from the elements and to deny observation of test preparations, had been pulled away from the test stand and positioned back on the apron. Several vehicles are now on the apron as well, along with building materials.