First Iranian-built satellite launched into orbit
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Iran's Omid satellite, "aimed at determining orbital measurements", was launched on Monday to coincide with the Islamic revolution's 30th anniversary, according to Iranian news agencies. The US and UK voiced "great concern" at the news.
AFP - Iran has placed its first home-built satellite in orbit using a Safir-2 rocket in a move that is set to raise new concerns in the international community.
"On the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and with the order of the president the national Omid satellite was launched," Fars news agency said.
"This is the first satellite that has been launched in the history of our nation and it was carried by Safir-2 satellite carrier."
The satellite was launched on Monday evening, the state news agency IRNA reported.
IRNA said the satellite was completely "made in Iran and is a light satellite."
"The satellite is aimed at determining orbital measurements and will circulate Earth 15 times in every 24 hours," the report said without quoting a source.
It said Safir-2 has the capability to "accurately launch a light satellite into space and place it in orbit."
"All parts of Safir-2 Omid have been made by Iranian scientists," it added.
The first Safir-2 rocket was sent into space in August and its development had raised concerns in the international community which is already at loggerheads with Tehran over its ambitious nuclear programme.
Washington and other world powers suspect that Tehran is building atomic weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Iran denies these charges saying its nuclear plan is purely for civilian uses.
Safir is about 22 metres (72 feet) long, with a diameter of 1.25 metres (a little over four feet) and weighing more than 26 tonnes.
Iran's most powerful military missile, the Shahab-3, has a diameter of 1.30 metres and measures 17 metres in length.
In August when the Safir-2 was launched, media reports had initially claimed that the rocket had carried Omid (Hope) but this was later denied by officials who said only a test satellite had gone up.
In February 2008, Iran triggered international concern when it said it had sent a probe into space on the back of a rocket to prepare for a satellite launch, and announced the opening of its space station in a remote western desert.
At that time, officials had said the Omid satellite would be sent into space in May or June.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made Iran's scientific development one of the main themes of his presidency, asserting that the country has reached a peak of progress despite international sanctions and no longer needs to depend on foreign states for help.
However, Iran's claims about its military and technological capabilities are often greeted with scepticism by Western experts.
Iran has pursued a space programme for several years, and in October 2005 a Russian-made Iranian satellite named Sina-1 was put into orbit by a Russian rocket.
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