An Iranian rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, state television reported, the latest setback for a program the US claims helps Tehran advance its ballistic missile program, the AP reports. The launch happened at 7:15pm local time at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s Semnan province, some 145 miles southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran. A Simorgh, or "Phoenix," rocket couldn't put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit, however, due to a low speed, Iranian state TV reported. An official said that "at the end of its path it did not reach the required speed for being put in the orbit" but still sought to portray the failure as a "remarkable" achievement for its space program. Previous Simorgh launches of the 80-ton satellite carrier suffered other failures.
In the days leading up to the launch, Iranian officials had been promoting the mission, including the country's Information and Communications Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi. His quick rise through the Islamic Republic’s carefully managed political system already is generating speculation he could be a candidate for Iran's 2021 presidential campaign. Jahromi acknowledged the unsuccessful launch in a tweet shortly after the news broke on state TV, comparing it to a "launch failures" by America. "But We're UNSTOPPABLE!" he tweeted in English. "We have more Upcoming Great Iranian Satellites!" He later tweeted in Farsi that "sometimes life does not go the way we like it to go" and added, "Please do not pay attention to fake news."
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