An Iranian rocket apparently exploded on the pad today (Aug. 29), marking the third launch failure of 2019 for the nation.
The ill-fated attempt originated from Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran, NPR reported, citing satellite imagery captured by the San Francisco-based company Planet.
Satellite imagery published by the Planet Labs Inc. appear to show the smoldering remains of a rocket at an Iranian space center that was to conduct a U.S.-criticized satellite launch.
The satellite pictures were taken Thursday morning of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province.
The photos show black smoke and part of a painted launch pad apparently scorched away.
The launch was due to have taken place despite U.S. warnings to Iran that it should avoid such activity.
“It was due to some technical issues and it exploded but our young scientists are working to fix the problem,” the Iranian official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. He gave no further details.
A U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, also said that Iran suffered a satellite launch failure.
The United States, Iran’s long time foe, fears long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.
Tehran denies the U.S. accusation that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development.
An Iranian attempt to launch a satellite failed in January, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said.
Jahromi has said that Iran would launch three satellites into orbit by March despite U.S. pressure to curb Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
In mid-August, he said Iran was preparing to launch a locally built telecommunications satellite named Nahid 1 (Venus 1).
Iran launched its first satellite Omid (Hope) in 2009 and its Rasad (Observation) satellite was also sent into orbit in June 2011. Tehran said in 2012 that it had successfully put its third domestically-made satellite Navid (Promise) into orbit.