Grace LiuDisappearing Act

It’s a flood of apocalyptic proportions! No I’m not talking about Noah and the ark, or even Offut Air Base.

Hi, I’m Grace Liu. Here’s your local Iranian weather for the week.

*walks in front of green screen*

The skies over Semnan in north-central Iran were mostly cloudy, with significant rainfall on March 20, 21, and again on the 26th.


*wildly gestures around greenscreen*

This weather radar map also shows precipitation around Semnan on the 26th.

Source: Ventusky

Why am I showing you the weather from Semnan in late March? Because that’s where Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center is located. And new satellite imagery taken by Planet Labs reveals that the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini space launch center is a lot worse for the wear after the downpour.

There is a small, circular launch pad at the space center that has been used for many of Iran’s satellite launches. Most recently, Iran attempted to launch a Safir space launch vehicle on Feb 5. It reportedly failed.

The circular pad usually looks like a colorful jawbreaker that a child has been licking for a day or two (left).

*more gesturing at the greenscreen*

In a recent image from March 29, the pad is barely visible (right).

Strong rains over the past two weeks likely flooded the thin sand around the area and deposited the sediment across the flat concrete.

This likely means that the launch pad is out of commission for now. Before the pad can be used again, the Iranians will have to take time to remove the sediment from the pad and possibly make repairs if there was any significant damage.


  1. Michael Krepon (History)