Iran launched a satellite carrier rocket bearing three research devices into space, according to state media.
The state TV report, as well as others by Iran’s semiofficial news agencies, did not say when the launch was conducted nor what devices the carrier brought with it. However, the launch comes amid difficult negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal.
Previous launches have drawn rebukes from the United States, which unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran.
Washington has said it is concerned by Iran’s development of space launch vehicles and a German diplomat said Berlin had called on Iran to stop sending satellite launch rockets into space, adding that they violated a UN Security Council resolution.
Iranian defence ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said the Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite carrier rocket had launched the three research devices at an altitude of 470 km and at a speed of 7,350 metres per second.
“The intended research objectives of this launch were achieved,” Hosseini told state television. “This was done as a preliminary launch. God willing, we will have an operational launch soon.”
“By developing our capacity to launch satellites, in the near future satellites with a wide range of applications will be placed into orbit,” Hosseini said.
But hours later, Hosseini and other officials remained silent on the status of the objects, suggesting the rocket had fallen short of placing its payload into the correct orbit. Hosseini offered a speed for the satellite carrier that state-associated journalists reporting on the event indicated wouldn’t be enough to reach orbit.
Iran’s TV aired footage of the white rocket emblazoned with the words, “Simorgh satellite carrier’’ and the slogan “We can’’ shooting into the morning sky from Iran’s Imam Khomeini Spaceport. A state TV reporter at a nearby desert site hailed the launch as “another achievement by Iranian scientists.’’
Iranian state media recently offered a list of upcoming planned satellite launches for the Islamic Republic’s civilian space programme. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard runs its own parallel programme that successfully put a satellite into orbit last year.