Iran Launched Payam-e AmirKabir Satellite, Failed to Reach its Orbit
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Iran Launched Payam-e AmirKabir Satellite, Failed to Reach its Orbit

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: The launch of  Payam-e Amirkabir from Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Northern Iran at UTC 00:30 / Source: MEHR News Agency

Image Attribute: The launch of  Payam-e Amirkabir from Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Northern Iran at UTC 00:30 / Source: MEHR News Agency

On January 15, 2019, Iran launched Payam-e Amirkabir (meaning ‘message from AmirKabir’ in Persian) satellite from Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Northern Iran at UTC 00:30. The Payam satellite is designed and built by Tehran's Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT, formerly called the Tehran Polytechnic) and was planned to carry out imagery mission in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Due to some technical problems in the Simogh rocket's third stage the satellite failed to reach its designated orbit at an altitude of 310 miles (500 km). As per the last GPS data active until the last minute, Payam satellite plummeted into the Indian Ocean.

Payam-e Amirkabir satellite is a part of a four satellite series to be launched by Iranian Space Agency (ISA) in near future. The other three includes Dousti, Nahid, and Zafar.  ISA has planned to build imagery satellites with one-meter-precision by the end of current Iran’s 20-year National Vision Program in 2025. Kindly do note, in the past, Iran has launched several satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space on its "Pishgam" rocket to a height of 72 miles (116 km).

On the other hand, Simorgh Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) is 27 metres (89 ft) long, and has a launch mass of 87 tonnes (192,000 lb). It is powered by four main engines in the first stage, each generating up to 29,000 kilograms-force (280 kN; 64,000 lbf) of thrust; its control system also uses four engines to control the flight on the first stage; its propulsion system also powered by two engines in the second stage.

To compensate for the failure, the AUT team leader of Payam satellite wrote a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and said: "they are ready to pool efforts and begin the construction of a second satellite." 

Global Reactions

The United States

On January 3 (2019), a warning was issued by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Iranian Regime on Space Launches that defy United Nations Sceurity Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 (2015). According to the press statement, "The resolution (UNSCR 2231) specifically calls upon the Iranian regime not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This action includes launching SLVs such as Simogh, which incorporate technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). An ICBM with a range of 10,000km could reach the United States".

After the failed launch, Mike Pompeo condemned Iran for what he calls its "defiance of the international community...the launch yet again shows that Iran is pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that threaten Europe and the Middle East."

However, according to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of Middlebury Institute of International Studies, "The technologies that the Iranians are working on in their Safir and Simorgh rockets are not suitable or are not preferred for missiles."


In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly slammed Iran over the launch, accusing Tehran of lying and alleging that "Iran is launching an innocent satellite, but is actually interested in reaching the first stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile, violating agreements." 

Kindly do note, an Israeli firm ImageSat International (ISI) on January 14, 2019, released images which showed apparent preparations by Iranian scientists to launch a satellite into space.


On January 11, 2018, The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs asked Iran to stop all activities regarding ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Any such program is not in compliance with UNSCR 2231 (2015).