Iran launched its first functioning satellite into orbit late Monday using a modified long-range missile to place a home-produced research and telecommunications satellite into space. Iran now joins a small group of space-faring nations with the ability to build and launch their own satellites. In 2005, Iran used a Russian rocket to launch a satellite, and in August of 2008 Iran reported they launched a dummy satellite into orbit using their own Safir-2 rocket, but other sources said the rocket suffered a catastrophic failure. This most recent launch, however, was the country’s first success in using their own rocket and their own functional satellite, launched from Iranian territory. The launch coincided with a 10-day celebration of the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution, according to the Fars news agency. On Iranian television, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the satellite was a “step toward justice and peace.”
Watch video of the launch, which includes several replays:
The small Omid satellite (which means ‘hope’ in Persian) carries experimental control systems, communications equipment, and a small remote sensing payload, Iranian news reports said. U.S. military tracking the launch said two objects, likely the satellite itself and part of its booster, are circling Earth in oval-shaped orbits. The orbits range in altitude from low points of 153 miles to high points of 235 miles and 273 miles. The orbital inclination is 55.5 degrees.
The former Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957. The United States followed with the successful launch of Explorer 1 in January 1958. France, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, India and Israel later developed and successfully flew their own space launchers.
Iran plans several more satellites over the next few years to bolster disaster management programs and strengthen communications networks inside the country.
Iran is subject to United Nations sanctions as some Western powers think it is trying to build a nuclear bomb, which it denies.
Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the production of energy, and has emphasized its satellite project is entirely peaceful.