Iran in Space
On Sunday 17 August 2008 Iran claimed to have successfully launched its first home-produced communications satellite into space. Independent confirmation of these claims was not immediately forthcoming. "President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad was at the launch of the communications satellite Omid (Hope) from Iran's space station," government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said, according to the Fars news agency.
An statement from the Iranian armed forces said it was the first launch of the domestically-built satellite, the official news agency IRNA reported. Joint Chief of Staff on Sunday congratulated Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and brave Iranian nation on successful launching of the rocket carrying the country's first satellite. In a message issued on Sunday, the Joint Chief of Staff said the rocket carrying the country's first satellite, the `Hope' Satellite, was successfully fired on the birth Anniversary of the last Imam of Shiites, Hazrat Mahdi (May God Hasten His Reappearance), "thus illustrating the auspicious name of the Imam in space". The message said the launching marks the second instance of successful tentative firing of such rockets.
Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics said that in presence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's `Safir' (Messenger) satellite-carrier rocket, carrying Iran's first `Omid' (Hope) Satellite, was successfully launched into the space tentatively on Sunday. The Ministry statement, a copy of which was made available to IRNA on Sunday, said the launch thus paved the way for placing the first Iranian satellite in orbit. It said the rocket had been built by Iranian experts and fired tentatively on the auspicious birthday anniversary of Hazrat Mahdi (May God Hasten His Reappearance).
A New York Times article by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad suggests that the two failed launches "were part of a pattern over the past 11 years," adding that former and current administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity "described a far-reaching effort, created under President George W. Bush, to slip faulty parts and materials into Iran’s aerospace supply chains. The program was active early in the Obama administration, but had eased by 2017, when Mr. Pompeo took over as the director of the C.I.A. and injected it with new resources." The effort known as “Left of Launch” tries to make sure that minute alterations in parts Iran buys from foreign suppliers cause eventual failure especially in balistic missiles used for placing objects in orbit. These are the kind of experiments that can eventually enable Iran to produce ICBMs.
In an interview with NBC on 15 February 2019, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed out that it was “quite possible” that the United States was sabotaging his country’s space program thinking it contributes to the development of ballistic missiles on Iranian soil. He also confirmed that Tehran had gone ahead with a second satellite launch earlier this month despite Washington’s stance on it. “We don’t know yet”, he said. “We need to look into it very carefully”, Zarif commented on the possible sabotage campaign, adding that Tehran is now “looking into the specifics” of it in the wake of a recent report in The New York Times. The outlet cited current and former US officials as saying that the Trump administration had stepped up a George W. bush-initiated programme to sabotage the Islamic Republic’s space and missile program.
The United States has condemned the launch attempts, warning that Washington "will not stand for Iran's blatant disregard for international norms." The United States alleged that Iran's satellite program uses technologies "that are virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles" in defiance of UN resolutions against any activity related to delivering nuclear weapons. Iran insists its satellite and rocket launches do not violate UN resolutions that only "called upon" it not to conduct such tests. It has said its missile program is only for civilian purposes.
Suspected acts of sabotage in Iran's missile program are not new phenomena. On 04 February 2019 Iran's Minister of Telecommunications, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said three Iranian aerospace researchers have died in a fire that broke out at the Iranian Space Research Center affiliated with the ministry. Jahromi said that the fire at the Space Research Center broke out while elsewhere at the center others were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran and did not notice what happened.
In previous years, cyber-attacks on Iranian aerospace and nuclear centers have reportedly caused problems for Tehran's ambitious programs. These include an alleged joint U.S.-Israeli cyber-attack caused a delay in Iran's nuclear program in 2011, the September 2016 fires at Iran's petrochemical plants due to sabotage in their software systems, and the 2011 explosion at an ammunition depot in Bidgeneh, near Tehran, killed the father of Iran's missile program, Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam as well as 16 other IRGC officers.
Or maybe rocket science is rocket science, naturally prone to failure, and the Americans are running a disinformation operation to give the Iranians a brain cootie and provoke them into disorganizing their programs by a search for non-existent sabateurs.