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Things didn’t go quite the way they were planned when Iran tried to launch a satellite on Thursday. They ended up with “the smoldering remains of a rocket.”

As reported by the Associated Press, the Iranian rocket “apparently exploded on its launch pad.” This is the third launch failure so far this year.

State run news media “did not immediately acknowledge the incident at the Imam Khomeini Space Center.” Planet Labs has photos though. Their satellite images “showed a black plume of smoke rising above a launch pad there, with what appeared to be the charred remains of a rocket and its launch stand.” They note the Iranians had spiffed things up a bit. “In previous days, satellite images had shown officials there repainted the launch pad blue.”

Thursday morning, half that paint had been burned away. “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there,” relates senior research associate David Schmerler.

They were allegedly sending up a Nahid-1 telecommunication satellite. Instead of circling the Earth in a low orbit for two-and-a-half months, it looks like it “either exploded during ignition or possibly briefly lifted off before crashing back down on the pad.”

Back in February, the New York Times broke a story about how “The U.S. has been secretly sabotaging Iranian missiles and rockets.” Ever since George W. Bush was sitting in the oval office, our top secret program “reportedly slipped problematic parts and materials into essential factories and supply chains.”

It seems to work. “While it is difficult to verify the effectiveness of this sabotage operation, the US has had some definitive success with these so-called ‘left of launch’ tactics.” Two thirds of Iran’s rockets blow up on the ground.

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