Iran appears to have attempted a second satellite launch despite US warnings that its space program helps the country develop ballistic missiles, satellite images released Thursday suggest.
Images released by the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe show a rocket at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province on Tuesday. Images from Wednesday show the rocket was gone with what appears to be burn marks on its launch pad.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the satellite, if launched, made it into orbit.
In the images, words written in Farsi in large characters on the launch pad appeared to say in part “40 years” and “Iranian made,” in different sections. That is likely in reference to the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which authorities have been celebrating this month.
Iran has said it would launch its Doosti, or “friendship,” satellite. A launch in January failed to put another satellite, Payam or “message,” into orbit after successfully launching it from the same space center.
The launches defy a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. Tehran also says they don’t violate a United Nations resolution that only “called upon” it not to conduct such tests.
Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.
The likely launch also comes after a Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi reportedly said Sunday that three scientists died “because of a fire in one of the buildings of the Space Research Center,” without elaborating.