Iranian launches its first satellite carrier rocket

August 18th, 2008 - 6:00 am ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Aug 18 (DPA) Iran launched its first domestically produced satellite carrier Sunday morning, official news agency IRNA reported. An Iranian Army statement, carried by IRNA, said that the new rocket Safir Omid (Hope Envoy) was successfully test-fired overnight to mark the anniversary of birth of the 12th Shia Imam al-Mahdi.

The statement further said that it was the second test-launch and successfully prepared the ground for the launch of the main satellite in the future.

The same rocket was first tested last February under the name Kavoshgar (Explorer) 1 upon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s direct order from a space centre in order to prepare for the launch of the Omid satellite.

The report said that Ahmadinejad also made the countdown for the satellite carrier and termed the launching a great technological achievement for the Iranian nation.

Earlier reports by the state media indicated that the main satellite was launched, but IRNA said that only the satellite carrier was launched.

The ability to launch satellites into orbit may indicate progress in the Islamic republic’s missile technology, which is another point of concern for Western countries worried by Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran’s main missile, Shahab-3, has a range of 2,000 km and is therefore capable of targeting any part of arch-rival Israel’s territory.

Iran says that its missile industry plans to focus its work on scientific rather than defence purposes.

Within the next two years, Iran reportedly plans to launch four more satellites for research, especially for the improvement of telecommunications and the monitoring of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, which frequently hit the country.

It is believed that the satellites could also have strategic dimensions, such as monitoring the movements in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan of foreign, especially US, forces.

The night-time rocket launch was shown on state television together with songs containing patriotic lyrics.

The Fars news agency reported that the launching of the domestically produced satellite showed that despite financial sanctions over the Islamic state’s nuclear programmes, Iran had succeeded in making progress even in aerospace.

The Kavoshgar rocket could reportedly reach a range of 4,000 km and be used for launching ballistic weapons.

Iran has said that new rockets, such as Shahab-4, were under production, but supposedly for aerospace purposes only.

The first Iranian satellite, Sina-1, was launched in 2005 with a Russian rocket, but Tehran claims that the new rocket was entirely made by Iranian scientists.

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