The Sciences

Iran tries, fails, to join space age just yet

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitAug 19, 2008 6:48 PM

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It looks like Iran tried to launch a satellite recently, but it exploded or otherwise failed during the second stage firing 100 miles above the Earth. I am, in general, supportive of other nations joining those of us who are space-faring. However, in this case I'm a little concerned. I think the U.S. government has grossly over-propogandized the threat of Iran -- which in itself is a problem, since the White House can now use the idea of a space-going Iran as yet another chance to rattle sabers against them -- but I am no fan of the current President, Ahmadinejad, who is a holocaust denier and no fan of Jews. The Space Race against the Soviets in the 1950s was a legitimate one: those who controlled space could control the planet. I have no joy in hearing that a country run by a madman is capable of launching satellites into orbit. I gave a rueful chuckle when I read this bit:

Ahmadinejad was present at this launch on Saturday, and offered a prayer before liftoff: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. O God! We beseech you to hasten the lofty advent of your heir [the hidden Shiite imam]. O God! Present him with good health and your assistance; and grant us the honor of being his best companions and to testify before him."

Perhaps God doesn't listen to Ahmadinejad, or maybe He has little interest in rockets. Draw your own conclusions. But religion aside, this should have very interesting repurcussions on politics of the region.

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