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Iran Launches Observation Satellite


President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (in file photo) reportedly presided over a launch ceremony.
Iran has successfully launched an observation satellite into orbit, Iranian sources report.

The IRNA news agency quoted the head of the Iranian Space Organization, Hamid Fazeli, as saying the Navid (Herald) satellite was placed into an orbit between 250 and 370 kilometers above Earth.

Iran's international broadcaster Press TV said the launch was conducted "following a decree by...President Mahmud Ahmadinejad," who presided over a launch ceremony.

It touted the 50-kilogram satellite as being "completely designed and built by Iranian experts."

Officials reportedly plan an 18-month mission, during which the satellite should send images back to Earth as it completes an orbit every 90 minutes or so.

There were no details immediately available about where the launch occurred.

Iranian officials say the satellite is aimed at collecting data on weather conditions and monitoring natural disasters on Earth.

It is the third small, domestically produced satellite that Iran says it has launched in recent years.

The United States and Israel have raised concerns about Iran's space program, saying it could be used to develop ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.

Based on local and international agency reports