Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sources: Iran Tried But Failed To Launch Satellite

James Oberg writes on MSNBC.com:

Last weekend's launch of an Iranian rocket sparked days of debate over what its intended mission was — and although officials in Tehran are characterizing it as merely a test of the launch vehicle, U.S. military intelligence officials now see it as a failed attempt to put a satellite in orbit.

A defense official confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday that the Iranian attempt was being viewed as a failure, and that Iran's claims about the missile test were seen as a cover story to conceal this.

According to the Pentagon source, the Safir ("Messenger") rocket was launched just before 3 p.m. ET on Saturday from a base near Semnan in northern Iran, carrying what he called a "crude communications satellite" with only "limited capability."

Soon after reaching an altitude above 500,000 feet, the missile failed and broke apart, the source said. The missile broke up when the second stage was firing, and the resulting debris was scattered across Iran and the Gulf of Oman, he said. The rocket was apparently aiming for an orbit about 400 miles (650 kilometers) high, inclined to the equator about 62 degrees.

More here.


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