Iran rocket launch fails to put satellite into orbit
An Iranian rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit yesterday, state television reported, the latest setback for a programme the US claims helps Tehran advance its ballistic missile programme. The launch happened at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s Semnan province, some 230 kilometers (145 miles) southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran. A Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket couldn’t put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit, however, due to a low speed, Iranian state TV reported. The launch had been planned amid celebrations ahead of the February anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran routinely unveils technological achievements for its armed forces, its space programme and its nuclear efforts during this time. Sunday’s failure came after two failed launches of the Payam and Doosti satellites last year, as well as a launchpad rocket explosion in August. A separate fire at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre in February 2019 also killed three researchers, authorities said at the time. The rocket explosion in August drew even the attention of US President Donald Trump, who later tweeted what appeared to be a classified surveillance image of the launch failure.
The three failures in a row raised suspicion of outside interference in Iran’s programme. The US alleges such satellite launches defy a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.