Iran’s space launch on Thursday has failed to put its three payloads into orbit after the rocket was unable to reach the required speed, a defence ministry spokesman said in remarks carried on state television.
The attempted launch, which came as indirect United States-Iran talks take place in Austria to try to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal, drew criticism from the US, Germany and France.
“For a payload to enter orbit, it needs to reach speeds above 7,600 [metres per second]. We reached 7,350,” the spokesman, Ahmad Hosseini, said in a documentary about the launch vehicle broadcast on state TV and posted online on Friday.
On Thursday, Hosseini did not clarify whether the devices had reached orbit, but suggested the launch was a test before upcoming attempts to put satellites into orbit.
Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, has suffered several failed satellite launches in the past few years due to technical issues.
Washington has said it is concerned by Iran’s development of space launch vehicles, and a German diplomat said Berlin had called on Iran to stop sending satellite launch rockets into space, adding that they violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.
France said on Friday the rocket launch aimed at sending three research devices into space was in violation of UN rules and was “even more regrettable” as nuclear talks with world powers were making progress.
“These activities are all the more regrettable as they come at a time when we are making progress in the nuclear negotiations in Vienna,” the French foreign ministry said.
“We call on Iran not to launch further ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, including space launchers.”
Tehran denies that its space activity is a cover for ballistic missile development or that it violated a UN resolution.