Iranian TV station announces first space rocket launch

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flag of Iran
Flag of Iran

In Iran, the state-controlled TV station has announced that the country for the first time test-fired a space rocket, with scientific equipment aboard. "The first space rocket has been successfully launched into space," the station's website reported. The rocket was later reported not be designed to reach an orbit. Iran claims it reached an altitude of 94 miles and then parachuted home. No images have been released, and no other reports have confirmed the launch.

The announcement comes at a time of international tension over Iran's nuclear program. In a speech today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared his country's nuclear program with a train with no brakes and no reverse gear. Manouchehr Mohammadi, a deputy foreign minister, said the country had prepared itself for a standoff over its nuclear activities. Diplomats said that if Iran would possess advanced missile capabilities it would be of concern to the nations who believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons, something Iran denies.

The head of the Iranian space center, Mohsen Bahrami, was quoted saying that the scientific material on board came from the science and from the defence ministry. He also said that the test was in line with international regulations on the matter. Although the news would mean a significant breakthrough for Iran's missile technology, the story was only mentioned during one TV broadcast, and not at all by other official Iranian media.

Iran has said in the past it wants more satellites to increase its cellular phone and internet capabilities. It also said it hopes to become a center for science and technology in the region.

Since 2005, Iran already has one satellite in space, Sinah-1, which was launched in Russia with a Russian rocket. The rocket was described as serving telecommunication and research purposes. Soon after the 2005 launch, Iran announced they would develop their own launcher. Yesterday, the Iranian Defence Minister spoke of Iran's plans for their own satellite launcher, and disclosed his country's desire to join the club of countries with a space program.