Iran has recorded the first orbital rocket launch failure of 2019. Early reports from the country have confirmed that the Payam Earth observation microsatellite launched this morning has failed to reach orbit.
The Earth observation satellite was launched aboard a Simorgh rocket from the Semnan Space Center in the north of Iran. Officials from the Iranian Space Agency have revealed that despite a successful launch, the rocket failed to place the satellite into its designated orbit.
Although not yet confirmed, the failure is believed to be caused by the rocket’s liquid-fueled upper stage failing to reach the necessary velocity for orbital insertion. The rocket’s first orbital mission in 2017 suffered a similar fate with the loss of the Toloo Earth observation satellite.
The Simorgh rocket, also known as the Safir-2 is a two-stage orbital launch vehicle developed by the Iranian Space Agency. The design is believed to be based on the North Korean Unha ICBM. It is capable of deploying a 350-kilogram (770-pound) payload into low Earth orbit.
Currently, Iran has a second orbital mission aboard a Simorgh rocket planned for later this year. The launch is expected to deploy a Payam twin, the Dosti. However, it is as yet unclear how this morning’s failure will affect the upcoming mission.