The Iranian press reported on Sunday, citing the Defense Ministry, that the launch of Iran’s Zafar satellite had failed. According to official reports, the satellite “was not successfully put into orbit”.
The satellite was launched on a Simorgh rocket, which brought it into space, but failed to give it sufficient velocity for a near earth orbit.
Iran has been space-capable since 2003, when the Iranian Space Agency was founded. The agency has successfully sent a tortoise, mice and two monkeys into space briefly and brought them back alive (one other monkey was killed).
The first Iranian satellite, Sina-1, was launched into orbit by Russia from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome using a Russian rocket in 2005. Its successor, Sina-2, was launched from Iran with an Iranian rocket in 2008, but did not reach orbit – the second stage of the rocket was destroyed at an altitude of 150 km.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the Iranians successfully launched three small weather and observation satellites into earth orbit using their own rockets.
After that, their space program has been marked by failure. Three new satellite launches, one in 2012 (“Fajr”) and two in 2019 (“Payam” and “Dousti”), failed to give the satellites adequate velocity for a long-lasting orbit.
On Sunday, the space program suffered its fourth consecutive failure.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on Twitter: “Iran failed today to launch a satellite. They are also failing to transfer weapons to Syria and to Lebanon, because we are active there all the time, even these days”
Many considered his post an indirect hint that Israel may have interfered with the satellite launch.
Netanyahu’s post infuriated Moshe Ya’alon, leader of the Telem party from the Blue and White bloc, which competes with Netanyahu’s Likud party.
“I heard that this evening Netanyahu hinted that the failed launch of the Iranian satellite was due to Israeli interference. If this is not true – why boast? And if it is true – Netanyahu should resign. Someone’s brakes have completely failed and their common sense has disappeared. On March 2 we will put an end to this. It’s time to move on,” Ya’alon said in a tweet, alluding to Israel’s upcoming legislative elections.