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Satellite images show Iran’s possible failed space launch

Zuljanah launch vehicle. Credit: Fars News Agency

Edinburgh / Dubai, 4 March 2022. – Iran likely had a failed satellite-carrying rocket launch while attempting to jumpstart the country’s space program criticized by the West.

The Associated Press saw Maxar Technologies’ satellite images showing scorch marks at Imam Khomeini Spaceport’s launch pad. The rocket stand seems to be damaged, with an object and vehicles surrounding it. Successful launches typically don’t cause such damage. Iran also has a history of immediately announcing launches that reach orbit while not acknowledging failed attempts.

The U.S. Space Command said it did not detect a launch over the weekend. This suggests that the launch vehicle, which appears to be the rocket Zuljanah, never left the launch pad.

Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit in the last decade and they also launched a monkey into space in 2013. However, the Simorgh program has seen five failed launches in a row. An unrelated fire also killed three researchers at the Spaceport in 2019. A year later, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard successfully launched a satellite into orbit. The country is planning to launch a series of satellites in the future.

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