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Iran Claims It’s Fired First “Space Rocket”

From Iran’s elated fans at France’s AFP:

Iran says fires first rocket into space

by Stuart Williams

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said on Sunday it had successfully launched its first rocket into space for research purposes, at a time of mounting tension with the West over its nuclear programme.

The rocket reached an altitude of 150 kilometres (93 miles) but did not stay in orbit, said Ali Akbar Golrou, deputy head of Iran’s aerospace research centre.

He described the rocket as a “sounding rocket” — one used for research purposes — and said it returned to earth with the aid of a parachute, the Fars news agency reported.

“The first space rocket has been successfully launched into space,” a state television anchor announced.

“The rocket was carrying material intended for research created by the ministries of science and defence,” Mohsen Bahrami, the head of the aerospace centre, told the channel.

He did not give further details on the nature of the payload. State television has yet to broadcast pictures of the launch.

The altitude of 150 kilometres is above the internationally accepted boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space, which is agreed at 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the surface and is known as the Karman line.

Such an altitude means the rocket reached the lower part of the earth’s thermosphere at an altitude slightly below that required by satellites and well off the exosphere at the upper limit of the earth’s atmosphere.

Iran’s claim of success in launching a space rocket appears to be the first major step towards its stated ambition of putting home-made satellites into space using Iranian-made rockets.

The country has in recent years pressed ahead with a nascent space programme, which has already seen an Iranian Russian-made satellite put into orbit by a Russian rocket in October 2005.

That satellite, Sina-1, was Iran’s first — and so far only — probe to be launched into space, and was described by the Iranian press at the time as being for research and telecommunications.

Iran has said it plans to construct and launch several more satellites over the next three years.

Officials were quick to emphasise that the rocket had been manufactured using Iran’s own resources, echoing similar statements about its nuclear programme.

“All the tests (leading up to the launch) have been carried out in the country’s industrial facilities in line with international regulations,” said Bahrami.

“The manufacture of the rocket and the cargo was achieved by experts at the centre of aerospace research and the engineering centre at the ministry of agricultural planning,” he added.

Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said the US trade embargo imposed after the Islamic revolution in 1979 had spurred Iran to press ahead with its own space programme…

Yes, of course it’s Bush’s fault.

Luckily there is nothing to worry about.

The UN is monitoring the situation.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Sunday, February 25th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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