Enlarge / In the Holy / Sacred Defense Museum, a huge complex commemorating the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, in Tehran, Iran, on February 3, 2016, Iranian missiles are exhibited on the left next to the Simorgh missile.
Scott Peterson / Getty Images
A few Iranian satellites did not reach orbit on Sunday after their Simorgh launch vehicle did not inject them at sufficient speed.
"The carrier's stage 1 and 2 engines were working properly and the satellite was successfully disconnected from its carrier, but at the end of its journey it did not reach the speed required to be placed in orbit," said Department of Defense Spokesman Ahmad Hosseini reported to state television in an AP report.
The Simorgh missile is a more powerful variant of a small satellite launch vehicle developed in the country with a capacity of 350 kg for orbit. However, it has a terrible track record with at least three failures and no successful orbital missions. The start on Sunday should help the country celebrate the upcoming February anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution.
Afterwards, a government official speculated as a potential presidential candidate in 2021, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi attempted to present the mission in a more beautiful light. "We are unstoppable! We have other large Iranian satellites in preparation!" the minister said via Twitter.
Today the satellite launch of "Zafar" failed. As with many scientific projects, failure has also occurred here. FALCON 9, Juno II, ATLAS, PROTON M and ANTARES are just a few examples of US launch errors.
But we are unstoppable! We have other large Iranian satellites in preparation! 🛰
– MJ Azari Jahromi (@azarijahromi) February 9, 2020
Jahromi also called "US launch errors", including the Falcon 9, Atlas, Antares and more. Ironically, the Atlas V successfully picked up a European Space Agency solar orbiter late on Sunday evening. Jahromi also included the Russian proton missile on his list of U.S. failures.
It is not clear why this missile failed. According to the New York Times, the Central Intelligence Agency has been running a sabotage program since the George W. Bush government to bring defective parts and materials into the supply chain of the Iranian aerospace industry. This program received new resources under the administration of Trump.
The United States and Iran have been arguing about the nation's missile program for years. American officials claim the program is part of an effort to develop ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons to distant foreign targets. The Iranian government says its space program is for peaceful purposes.