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The Taepodong-1 was a North Korean ballistic missile technology demonstrator. Beginning in 1994, North Korea publicly displayed two- and three-stage configurations of the liquid-fueled missile, and flight tested the three-stage configuration in 1998. The missile is capable of carrying a 750 kg payload to a range of 2,000 km in a two-stage configuration, and to 5,000 km in a three-stage configuration. 1

Taepodong-1 at a Glance

Originated from
North Korea
Alternate names
Paektusan 1
Possessed by
North Korea
Intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)
Fixed launch platform
25 – 32 m
1.25 – 1.36 m
Launch weight
20,700 kg
750 kg
Two-stage liquid propellant
2,000 (two-stage configuration) – 5,000 (three-stage configuration) km
Technology demonstrator
In service
1990 – 1998

Taepodong-1 Development

The Taepodong-1 originated from the Nodong missile’s development program. The Taepodong-1’s first stage was believed to incorporate multiple Nodong engines, an enlarged version of the Scud-C/D’s rocket motors.2

The Taepodong-1 failed to complete its sole flight test in 1998. While North Korea claimed it put a satellite into an elliptical orbit, post-launch analysis indicated that the rocket’s third stage failed after separation, causing the payload to fall into the Pacific ocean.3


The Taepodong-1 is 1.25 meters in diameter and about 25.5 meters in a two-stage configuration and 32 meters in a three-stage configuration.4 Analysts estimate that the missile could carry a 750 kg payload to a range of up to 5,000 km in a three-stage configuration.


    1. Jim O’Halloran, Jane’s Weapons: Strategic: 2015-2016 (United Kingdom: Jane’s Information Group, 2015), 64.
    2. Ibid, 64.
    3. Michael Elleman, “North Korea Launches Another Rocket: Consequences and Options,” 38 North, February 10, 2016, http://38north.org/2016/02/melleman021016/
    4. Ibid, 65.
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Missile Defense Project, "Taepodong-1," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 9, 2016, last modified July 31, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/taepodong-1/.