Iran attempted to launch a domestically-built “Zafar” satellite into space, but the rocket did not gain enough speed to reach orbit, according to reports. News of the failure broke on Sunday, two weeks after satellite imagery showed increased activity around Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center.
The latest mishap is the fourth time a satellite launched from the Khomeini spaceport has failed to reach outer space. The previous failed attempted happened on Aug. 29. Satellite images showed what appeared to be a failed rocket launch from the space center’s launch pad. Iran did not admit to the failure until days later on Sept. 2.
After the August failure, the Trump administration placed sanctions on the Iranian Space Agency for the first time in its history. U.S. officials said that Iran is using its space agency, purportedly meant for space research, as a covert means of placing satellites carrying ballistic missiles into space.
“The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as a cover to advance its ballistic missile programs. Iran’s Aug. 29 attempt to launch a space launch vehicle underscores the urgency of the threat,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time.
“These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system,” he added.