A satellite that was launched from Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Centre has failed to reach orbit. Image by (Maxar Technologies via AP)

Technology

Iranian satellite fails to reach orbit

2020-02-11 05:45:45

Iran has unveiled a new short-range missile called Thunder and launched a satellite named Victory which failed to reach orbit.

The developments take place at a time of high tension with the US, which killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting an Iranian missile attack on a US base in Iraq.

Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said the satellite launch had not gone as planned.

“I wanted to make you happy with good news but sometimes life does not go the way we want it to. The launch was not successful,” he tweeted on Sunday.

A defence ministry official earlier told state television the “Zafar” (Victory) satellite had launched successfully but not reached orbit.

“We will make improvements for future launches,” he said.

US officials say they fear long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

State television said Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is in charge of the country’s missile program, had unveiled the new missile, called Raad-500, Farsi for Thunder.

Iran’s clerical rulers have said Tehran’s missile program is solely defensive.

The first picture the satellite had been due to transmit to state media would have been of Soleimani, Azari-Jahromi told state TV.

He said it was launched from Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Centre in Iran’s Semnan province, a facility under the control of the country’s defence ministry.

Tehran launched the first Iranian-made satellite in 2009, another in 2011 and a third in 2012, but at least two satellite launches failed last year.