In the latest indication that it might be readying a try to launch another space rocket, Iran has given its launch pad a fresh coat of paint.
A satellite image taken by the commercial firm Planet shows the pad painted a bright blue. The model, born August 24, was shared with NPR. Until this month, the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center had been sporting a burn scar from a previous failed launch attempt. It had additionally been covered in debris from a potential flash flood at the site this past spring.
“The Iranians have completed clearing off the pad, and they painted over the previous launch scar,” says Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate on the Middlebury Institute for International Studies who has analyzed the imagery.
Another recent imagery has shown vehicle exercise at a nearby building the place Iran assembles its rockets. Schmerler says that they are getting close to launch, however precisely when that happens, Schmerler can’t explain to them.
Iran’s press has reported that the government has three satellites that could be prepared for launch by the end of the nation’s calendar year in March of 2020. The latest report from August suggests that one of the satellites, a communications satellite is known as Nahid-1, is prepared for launch now.
If a launch does take place, it might be the third such attempt this year. Launch attempts in January and February both failed.
The Trump administration has insisted that Iran’s space rockets additionally advance the nation’s ballistic missile program. “Such vehicles incorporate technologies that are just about identical and interchangeable with these utilized in ballistic missiles, together with intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement following the failed launch try in January.
However, Schmerler and other impartial analysts are less sure of a clear connection between Iran’s liquid-fueled space rockets and its missile activities. The rocket the Iranians are likely to use, generally known as the Safir, doesn’t contain advanced technology. It’s a “relatively dated space-launch vehicle,” he says.