Apparent Iran launch failure


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Just released satellite photos showing fire and smoke at an Iranian launchpad suggest that a rumored attempt by Iran this week to launch a satellite into orbit resulted instead in a launchpad failure.

[S]atellite images by Planet Labs Inc. showed a black plume of smoke rising above a launch pad there, with what appeared to be the charred remains of a rocket and its launch stand. In previous days, satellite images had shown officials there repainted the launch pad blue.

On Thursday morning, half of that paint apparently had been burned away. “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there,” said David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Schmerler told The Associated Press that the images of the space center suggested that the rocket either exploded during ignition or possibly briefly lifted off before crashing back down on the pad.

In July Iranian officials had said they would do three launches this year, with a communications satellite launch expected before the end of the summer. It would appear that this failure is of that launch.

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