US President Trump formally reinaugurates US Space Command…then posts “secret” satellite photo to show Iranian launch pad devastation

by | Sep 2, 2019 | Launches, Military space, Seradata News

In a Rose Garden speech outside of the White House, US President Donald Trump, has formally reinaugurated the US Space Command. This is, in effect, a release of US Space Command from the command structure of the US Strategic Command into which it was subsumed some years ago. Nevertheless, this move is viewed as more than just a resurrection, as it is actually a step towards the much more significant formation of a new armed force – the US Space Force (USSF). Soon after this announcement, and to the chagrin of it and other US intelligence agencies, in his Twitter column President Trump published a secret satellite photograph of the devastation caused by a suspected Safir rocket, pre-launch explosion which took place on 29 August. The explosive failure is believed to have occurred during fuelling operations at the pad at the Khomeini Space Centre in the Semnan province of Iran. No details of casualties have been released. The rocket launch was apparently to have carried the 55 kg, Nahid -1 experimental communications satellite.

The message on Twitter which accompanied the allegedly classified image was ostensibly a denial that USA had anything to do with the failure, along with a message of good wishes. Nevertheless, some believed that it had more than a hint of gloating about it. The published photograph appears to have a resolution of 10 cm (0.1 m) and this has led to the conclusion a KH-11 Advanced Crystal imaging/reconnaissance satellite was used to take the image of the launch pad. Amateur analysis of the slant angle has led to the conclusion that the NRO L-49 (USA 244) spacecraft took the photograph.

Donald Trump’s twitter tweet and image of the devastated Semnan launch pad in Iran. Courtesy: Twitter/Donald Trump


Later commercial satellite imagery became available to verify the claims, including the one below which clearly shows the debris from the rocket at the bottom of the image.

As smoke rises, rocket debris is clearly visible in this satellite image of the Semnan launch pad from Planet Labs. Courtesy: Planet Labs

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Evidence points to Iran having a second Safir launch failure in September

Having already had a suspected failure earlier in the year, there is increasing evidence that Iran had a second launch Read more

Iran makes suborbital test flight of its new Zoljanah-1 launch vehicle

Iranian media has announced the first launch of a new Iranian launch vehicle called Zoljanah-1. Although the exact date has Read more

Another Simorgh launch goes wrong for Iran – Zafar satellite is lost reports that the Safir 2A Simorgh launch vehicle has suffered another failure. The launch is reported to have taken Read more

Analysis: Is assassinating political and military (or even space) leaders ever a good idea?

Given recent events in Iraq and Iran, we ask the question: Is assassinating military, political, or even space leaders ever Read more

Iran suffers second launch failure this year as Safir goes wrong

Iran has suffered its second orbital launch failure of the year. In January it experienced a suspected third-stage ignition failure of Read more

Third stage failure on Simorgh-Basir rocket denies Iran’s AMIR KABIR 1 (PAYAM) satellite an orbit

At 0030 GMT on 15 January 2019, the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) attempted to launch the AMIR KABIR-1 (PAYAM) satellite into Low Earth Read more

Iran carries out a launch of its Simorgh vehicle with an ambiguous result and causing international protests

During 27 July, the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran), conducted a launch of its "Simorgh" - meaning Phoenix in Farsi Read more

Iran’s new Simorgh rocket makes suborbital test flight while North Korea tests submarine missile launch system

While the first flight of Iran’s new Simorgh flown on 19 April 2016 from the Semnan launch site appeared, at first sight, Read more