Iran launches new satellite-carrying rocket
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Tehran (AFP) –
Iran's defence ministry on Monday said it has test launched a new satellite carrier with its "most powerful" solid-fuel engine to date, state TV reported.
The test was "the first launch of the Zoljanah hybrid satellite carrier for sub-orbital testing", said Ahmad Hosseini, the spokesman for the ministry's space division.
"This three-stage carrier can compete with the world's current carriers, and has two stages of solid propulsion and a single liquid one," he added, noting that the rocket was for "research purposes".
According to Hosseini, Zoljanah can put satellites in a "500 kilometre (310 mile) altitude orbit and carry a 220-kilogramme (1,100-pound)" payload.
He also said the rocket can be launched from a "mobile platform", which provides it with "special capabilities".
Footage released by the broadcaster showed the rocket being launched in a desert area, without specifying the place and time of the test.
According to Mehr news agency, the launch took place at the central Semnan province, where Iran has a space centre.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards launched the country's first military satellite, dubbed the Nour, into orbit in April last year, coming after the failed launch of another satellite two months before.
The Guards said the satellite orbited the Earth at 425 kilometres and was carried using the Qassed rocket, using a liquid and solid propulsion similar to Zoljanah.
The Islamic republic's arch enemy the United States at the time said the launch proved that Iran's space programme was for military rather than commercial purposes.
Iran maintains it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons and says its aerospace activities are peaceful and comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution.
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