December 07, 2023

What’s in a name – and a logo? The problem with North Korea’s new space agency

It's not accidental that NADA's name and logo are uncomfortably similar to NASA’s

North Korea recently issued a press release containing details of its National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) – ‘the country's central guidance institution organizing all the space development projects’. International media were quick to deride the Administration’s new name and logo because they bear striking resemblance to that of its American counterpart, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). But in doing so, they missed the significance of the statements, which wasn’t particularly funny.

NADA, and its accompanying flashy logo, constitute a makeover of North Korea’s State Space Development Bureau, which was set up by the seventh session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly in late March 2013. At the time, a package of laws was passed relating exclusively to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and space pursuits. The first law was aimed at ‘consolidating the position of nuclear weapon state for self-defense’. The second focused on ‘developing space’, though few details of the law’s contents were given. And the third established a ‘State Space Development Bureau’ – which has now been re-badged as the NADA.