Various satellite images suggest that Iran is making preparations for a space launch, as negotiations are still going on in the Austrian capital of Vienna over its nuclear deal with World Powers.
An expert claimed on Monday (December 13) that the Space Flight might blast off at Imam Khomeini Spaceport, with the Iranian state media releasing a list of upcoming planned satellite launches as a part of the Islamic Republic's Civilian Space Program. It may be noted that a series of failed launches hit the Program hard in recent past. However, another Space Program, run parallelly by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, successfully put a satellite into an orbit in 2020.
Reports suggest that Planet Labs Inc. took satellite images on Saturday (December 10), showing activities at the spaceport in Semnan Province of Iran, 240km southeast of Tehran. The Iranian officials parked a support vehicle, along with a massive white gantry that houses a rocket, on the launch pad. A hydraulic crane, with a railed platform, was also there at the launch pad. Other satellite images show an increase in the number of cars at the facility, indicating heightened activities at the area.
Earlier on December 5, the state-run IRNA news agency stated in an article that Iran would send four satellites to the space under its Space Program. One of those is the low-orbit imaging satellite 'Zafar 2', weighing 113kg. In Persian language, Zafar means 'Victory'. In February 2020, Iran launched the 'Zafar 1' satellite, but it failed to enter the orbit.
According to experts, the plan to launch a space flight will certainly strengthen the position of hard-line Iranian negotiators in Vienna, as they have already claimed that the Iranian Nuclear Program would not pose security threats to the Global Community, as it would be used for peaceful purposes. Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and an expert in Tehran's Nuclear Program, stressed that all this fits into a renewed focus on space by hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Meanwhile, the new foreign minister of Germany has warned that time is running out for the World Powers to finalize the deal with Iran. Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had shepherded the Nuclear Deal out of office, as he was concerned about alienating the talks with Space Flight launches opposed by the US. Lewis added: "They're not walking on eggshells. I think Raisi's people have a new balance in mind."
However, the Iranian State Media have rejected media reports about the activity at the spaceport. Iran's mission to the UN, too, has refused to make any comment on this particular issue. Even the US military, which continuously tracks space launches, maintains silence.