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article imageSatellite images show Iranian rocket launch ends in failure

By Karen Graham     Aug 30, 2019 in Technology
A rocket at an Iranian space center that was set to launch a satellite, apparently exploded on its launch pad Thursday, according to satellite images, suggesting the Islamic Republic suffered its third failed rocket launch this year alone.
images from the commercial company Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, shows smoke billowing from the pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran, according to NPR.com.
The satellite images were taken on Thursday morning of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province. The photos show black smoke and parts of the launch site, which had been repainted recently, with scorch marks.
David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told The Associated Press: "Whatever happened there, it blew up and you're looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there."
It is believed the rocket's payload was a Nahid-1 satellite, according to the Military Times. "This failure happened maybe a couple of minutes before the image was taken."
The new facility of the Imam Khomeini Space Launch Center is located 2600 m northeast from the Safir...
The new facility of the Imam Khomeini Space Launch Center is located 2600 m northeast from the Safir launch pad.
Imam Khomeini Space Launch Center
CTV News Canada is reporting that the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe has imagery from Tuesday this week that shows a rocket on the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center. DigitalGlobe said it appeared Iran used a Safir, or "ambassador," rocket in the launch. In the January launch, engineers used a Simorgh, or "phoenix," rocket. It wasn't immediately clear what prompted the rocket choice.
The satellite was probably Iran's Doosti, or "friendship," satellite. Another launch in January this year failed to put the Payam or "message" satellite into orbit. The Doosti is a remote-sensing satellite developed by engineers at Tehran's Sharif University of Technology. It was to be launched into a low Earth orbit.
An image from a second commercial satellite owned by Maxar shows the destroyed rocket still attached to the machinery used to transport and erect the rocket on the launchpad.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has held the post since 1989 when he succeeded rev...
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has held the post since 1989 when he succeeded revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on his death and has dominated Iranian politics ever since
STRINGER, KHAMENEI.IR/AFP/File
"This looks to me like an accident during launch preparation," says Michael Elleman, Director of the Nonproliferation and Nuclear Policy Program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "It'd probably likely be a problem during fueling the missile, or an electrical shortage."
The Trump administration has accused Iran of defying a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. However, Elleman says he doesn't believe Iran's space program has anything directly to do with ballistic missiles.
"I think it's a real stretch what the administration is claiming," he says. "I don't know of a single satellite launcher that's been converted into a ballistic missile."
More about Iran space center, Failure, technical issues, Satellite imagery, Explosion
 
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