Well, this is awkward.

I Spy

North Korea was trying its very best to send a spy satellite up into space — but it just didn't want to stay in the sky.

As North Korea's Korean Central News Agency admitted, the Malligyong-1 satellite, which was launched on a homebrewed Chollima-1 rocket, experienced a second-stage malfunction that saw it tumbling down into the sea.

The Pyongyang-run media attributed the satellite's failure to "unstable" fuel and the newness of the Chollima-1 rocket, and has vowed to fix its "serious defects" and relaunch as soon as possible.

As The Guardian notes, this is North Korea's sixth attempt to launch a satellite, and — curiously — its first time doing so since 2016. This fact wasn't lost on the White House, which condemned the failed launch via a National Security Council spokesperson, calling it a "brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions."

In the past, such satellite launches were believed to be Pyongyang's attempt to circumvent international rules and covertly test long-range missile systems. Indeed, both Japan and South Korea activated energy sirens after the launch, though they were quickly called off once it was clear that any threat it may have posed had passed.

Saving Grace

South Korea later revealed that it had salvaged part of what is believed to be the wreckage, which could be a huge boon for the country.

"Technical experts will be able to gain tremendous insight into North Korea's proficiency with large, multi-stage boosters from the recovered debris," Ankit Panda, a United States-based security analyst told the Agence France-Presse.

As with all statecraft, this debacle has many layers, and although it's scary to imagine North Korea trying to get around the rules preventing it from testing long-range missiles, it's at least reassuring that its latest attempt crashed and burned.

More on military spycraft: Another Mysterious Balloon Sighted, This One Over Hawaii

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