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Iran Launches First Homemade Satellite

  • Valentinas Mite

Preparations ahead of the satellite launch

Preparations ahead of the satellite launch

Iran says it has launched its first completely homemade satellite into orbit.

State-run television and the official Islamic Republic News Agency said the satellite, named "Omid" (Hope), was carried by the Iranian-made satellite carrier Safir-2 and successfully placed into orbit.

Reports say the satellite is designed to gather data and test equipment.

The launch coincides with events marking the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Iran's growing presence in space is aimed at "expanding monotheism, peace, and justice."

Iran's race to space coincides with rising international concern that its drive for nuclear technology masks ambitions to build atomic weapons, which Tehran denies.

Hossein Aryan, a military analyst for RFE/RL's Radio Farda, says the long-range ballistic technology needed to put satellites into space could also eventually be used for launching weapons.

"Well, I mean, the possibility is there because if Iran is capable of producing a satellite carrier...and if the country is capable of firing it successfully, which hasn't been verified yet, then it is a step in the right direction," Aryan says.

International observers have so far not been able to verify the satellite launch.

Iran says the satellite is for telecommunications purposes -- and has nothing to do with its military.

Little is known about Iran's satellite program. But Aryan says Iran's space program is making progress, as it "has allocated a lot of resources" to it.

Aryan further notes that the Defense Ministry "is in charge of the Iranian air and space program and, in fact, the government said that it has allocated $500 million for space projects in the next five years."

It's not the first time Iran has launched a satellite into space. But it is the first time it has done so by itself. In 2005, with Russian help, Iran launched a satellite from the Russian space center at Pletsetsk.

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