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Iran Launches First Space Rocket

(RFE/RL) February 25, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- State television reports that Iran has successfully launched its first space rocket. Fars news agency quotes the deputy head of Iran's aerospace research center, Ali Akbar Golrou, as saying the rocket reached an altitude of 150 kilometres, but did not stay in orbit.

Golrou said the rocket returned to earth by parachute. It was not reported from where in Iran the rocket had been launched or where it landed.

Research Payload

The head of Iran's Space Research Center, Mohsen Bahrami, is quoted as saying the rocket was built by the country's Science and Technology Ministry and the Defense Ministry. Iran has stated that it wants to send its own satellites, including commercial ones, into orbit.

Bahrami, told state television that the rocket was carrying "material intended for research created by the ministries of science and defense."

"All the tests [prior to the launch] have been carried out in the country's industrial facilities in line with international regulations," Bahrami added.

Bahrami also said the rocket launch is the result of work completed in the Iranian year. It is currently the 12th and final month of the Iranian year.

The daily newspaper "Etemad e-Melli" on February 24 quoted Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar as saying that "building a satellite and satellite launcher...and becoming a member of the space club are part the Defense Ministry's plans."

In Haste For Space

The state news agency IRNA today cited Science and Technology Minister Mohammad Soleimani as saying that Iran would speed up its space program. IRNA quoted Soleimani as saying, "investment in space is very serious and requires time, but we are trying to speed this up."

Iran did send an Iranian Russian-made satellite into space aboard a Russian-made rocket in October 2005. The Sina-1 satellite was Iran's first, and so far only, satellite put into orbit.

But Iranian officials have said that the country is planning to build and launch several more satellites during the next few years.

The announcement of the rocket launch comes at a time of growing tension between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program. That program was also in Iranian news today with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad quoted by the Iranian student news agency ISNA as saying his country "has obtained the technology to produce nuclear fuel and Iran's move is like a train...which has no brakes and no reverse gear."

Deputy Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mohammadi was quoted by the same source as saying, "We have prepared ourselves for any situation, even for war."

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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