WASHINGTON Dec 11 The rocket launched by North Korea was detected on Tuesday by U.S. missile-warning systems, and officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command said it deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit around the Earth.
The rocket launch was detected at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 GMT Wednesday) and was tracked on a southerly course, with the first stage of the missile falling into the Yellow Sea and the second stage falling into the Philippine sea, NORAD said in a statement.
"Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit," NORAD said. "At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."
The Obama administration said earlier it was aware of the launch and was following the situation.
"We noted the launch and we are monitoring the situation. We will have further official comment later," an administration official said in an email message.