An explosion occurred during the preparation of the orbital launch of the Iranian Space Agency. U.S. satellites sighted a column of smoke.
Iran did not hide its wish to send in space this month-end the little telecommunications satellite Nahid-1 (Venus in Persian). The preparatory phase was observed from space by several satellites, especially of the U.S.
But the launch attempt — perhaps with the national little launch vehicle Safir-1B — seemed to be preceded by an explosion occurred on the launch pad of Semnan base, in the North of the country, on August 29.
The first satellite images of a thick black smoke leaking out of the launch pad, probably a few minutes after the accident, were broadcast by the company Planet. Its competitor Maxar next provided a closer sight of the location, showing the launcher still attached to the machinery used to transport and erect it for the launch.
“This looks to me like an accident during launch preparation”, says Michael Elleman, Director of the Non-proliferation 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.”
Iran endures its third space failure of the year after the lost in flight on January 15 and February 5. In ten years, some observers of the Islamic Republic space program have identified 6 failures out of 10 attempts of orbital launches.