Seoul — North Korea successfully launched ainto orbit late Tuesday night, according to its state media. The claim couldn't immediately be confirmed independently.
It's the third time this year that North Korea has attempted to put a surveillance satellite into orbit. Two previous attempts —and — both failed.
The rocket launch carrying the satellite into space was detected by South Korea's military.
"Our military detected a North Korean military reconnaissance satellite that was launched southward from the Dongchang-ri area in North Pyongan Province at 22:43 local time," the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The U.S. condemned the launch. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement it was "a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond."
Very little is known about the satellite itself — and, crucially, whether its camera will be good enough to deliver North Korea high-resolution pictures of U.S. and South Korean military installations and maneuvers.
Earlier in the day, North Korea had warned Japan the launch would take place before the end of the month, but it went ahead only hours later. Parts of the rocket discarded in flight were expected to have splashed into the sea around Japan and the Philippines.
The South Korean military had warned that it would take the "necessary measures" in the event of a launch, but did not specify what that would be. America and its allies in the region will now be monitoring for any signals the satellite sends from space — assuming it settles into a stable orbit — to determine how sophisticated it is.
Since 1998, North Korea has launched six satellites. Only two of them were placed in orbit and are still circling Earth, but most experts believe they are not transmitting information to ground stations.
South Korea plans to launch its own surveillance satellite for monitoring North Korea on Nov. 30 in California using Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket.
Alex Sundby contributed reporting.