Imagery shot by Vancouver company UrtheCast‘s Iris camera, mounted on the International Space Station, shows an increase in activity around the Imam Khomeini launch facility in Iran, suggestive of the hypothesis that the nation’s government may be preparing to launch a satellite into space.
Focusing on the site’s Launch Complex 2, Mission Control and Engine Test Facility, representatives from UrtheCast told Space.com that their imagery “shows increased activity in the area, suggesting that a launch of the Simorgh SLV rocket — built to send satellites into space — is fast approaching.”
Iris, which can shoot 4K video at a one-metre resolution, is one of two camera that UrtheCast has mounted on the International Space Station (ISS), the other being Theia.
Both cameras were installed on the exterior of the ISS in January 2014.
The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, making for about 16 passes per day at an altitude of about 400 kilometres, and travels between 53° and -53° latitude, in which 95% of the world’s population lives.
CNN reported this week that Iran has the ability to launch a three-stage rocket with a satellite on top “at any minute”, according to a U.S. government official.
Iran state media has announced the test firing of two ballistic missiles last Wednesday, which the U.S. government has said is in violation of the U.N. agreement adopted by the two countries last July.
Iran’s foreign minister has responded to the U.S. claims, saying that Iran is within its rights to conduct the tests for defensive purposes.
In February 2015, Iran launched several satellites, including the Fajr spacecraft, which was launched into orbit from a two-stage Safir rocket.
UrtheCast’s value proposition is unique in its industry, in that most orbiting satellite cameras are switched on for only a few minutes every day to preserve their lifespan, owing to the fact that most orbiting cameras are considered end-of-life when their power supply runs out.
UrtheCast, however, has reached a unique agreement with the ISS, which has seen their cameras installed in exchange for a small portion of imagery at no cost, the remainder of which UrtheCast sells to a variety of government, industry and media clients.