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Missles in museum in Tehran.

Satellite images reveal evidence of a rocket explosion in Iran

Image credit: Dreamstime

Charred remains and missing paint spotted in satellite images provided by Planet Labs are interpreted as a failed rocket launch.

Amid tight scrutiny from the US – which claims rocket launches of this kind would defy a UN Security Council resolution – satellite images have surfaced that suggest that a rocket explosion took place on a launch site in Iran.

The US called on Iran to undertake no activity relating to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

According to experts, the images are proof of a failed launch at the space centre, located around 150 miles south-east of Iran’s capital, Tehran. On Thursday morning, half of the fresh coat of blue paint that was previously visible on the circular launch pad "had been burned away".

According to David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, this was enough evidence that there had been an explosion of some kind: “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smouldering remains of what used to be there," he said.

Schmerler told The Associated Press that the images of the space centre suggested that the rocket either exploded during ignition or possibly briefly lifted off before crashing back down on the pad.

America's agitation with Iran's experimentation heightened in January when a failed launch of a satellite into space – due to missing the necessary velocity in the third stage of the launch – was reported. Iran's move sparked warnings by Washington against undertaking three planned space rocket launches.

In January, E&T reported that an official of the country's national security council announced that Iran had no intention to increase the range of its missiles. Instead, it would continue to work on its satellite technology to improve accuracy.

Satellite imagery is growing ever more important in news media reporting. E&T recently used satellite images to judge whether Chile's lithium production companies helped to dry out areas nearby to mining sites. Images also play an ever-growing role in spotting wildfires in their infancy. 

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