Iran says satellite ‘successfully’ launched without reaching orbit
–– unveils ballistic missile, ‘new generation’ engines
TEHRAN: An Iranian rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, state television reported, the latest setback for a programme the United States claims helps Tehran advance its ballistic missile programme.
The launch happened at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s Semnan province, some 230 kilometres southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran. A Simorgh, or “Phoenix”, rocket couldn’t put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit, however, due to a low speed, Iranian state TV reported.
“Stage-1 and stage-2 motors of the carrier functioned properly and the satellite was successfully detached from its carrier, but at the end of its path it did not reach the required speed for being put in the orbit,” Defence Ministry space programme spokesman Ahmad Hosseini told state TV.
Hosseini still sought to portray the failure as a “remarkable” achievement for its space programme.
Sunday’s failure came after two failed launches of the Payam and Doosti satellites last year, as well as a launchpad rocket explosion in August. A separate fire at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in February 2019 also killed three researchers, authorities said at the time.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled Sunday a short-range ballistic missile that they said can be powered by a “new generation” of engines designed to put satellites into orbit.
The Guards’ Sepahnews website said the Raad-500 missile was equipped with new Zoheir engines made of composite materials lighter than on earlier steel models.
It also unveiled Salman engines made of the same materials but with a “movable nozzle” for the delivery of satellites into space.
The Raad was “a new generation missile that has half the weight of a Fateh-110 missile but with 200 kilometres more range,” it added.
The Fateh-110 is a ballistic ground-to-ground missile first unveiled in 2002. Its latest generation has a range of 300 kilometres (186 miles).
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Major General Hossein Salami unveiled the missile and engines alongside IRGC aerospace chief Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh. – AP/AFP