Iran launches its first military satellite
Tehran, April 22 (IANS): The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Iran on Wednesday said they had successfully launched the nation’s first military satellite into orbit to improve its defence capability amid growing tensions with the United States.
The launch took place from the Dasht-e Kavir desert in central Iran and the satellite reached an orbit of 425 km above the Earth’s surface, the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement on its website, Efe news reported.
The Noor satellite, meaning light, used a Ghasad satellite carrier to launch it into space, both of which were locally made.
Commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami said: “We have made a leap in the field of expanding territory and strategic intelligence.”
“Today, we can see the world from space, and this means expanding the strategic intelligence of the powerful defence force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“The deployment of this multi-purpose satellite in space, both in the field of information technology and intelligence battles, can produce strategic added value for us, and in intelligence warfare, it creates powerful grounds for us,” he added.
He said that both the satellite and its carrier rocket were domestically manufactured given the country is under heavy US economic sanctions which have been in place for two years.
He said the important achievement proved that sanctions were “driving the development of new technologies to achieve great power at a regional level and, in the near future, at a global level.”
The launch from the large salt desert in the middle of the Iranian plateau coincided with the 41st anniversary of the founding of the Revolutionary Guards which was created in 1979 by an order of Ayatollah Khomeini, then leader of the country after the overthrow of the monarchy.
Iran put Omid (Hope), its first domestically made satellite into orbit in 2009, and in the subsequent three years, it launched two more.
In 2017, the Simorgh rocket was launched from the Imam Khomeini National Space Centre.
However, in January 2019 and last February, Iranian authorities failed to put two satellites into orbit as they did not reach sufficient speed during take-off.
The United States is highly critical of Iran’s space programme as it believes that behind these attempts, the Islamic Republic is concealing a project to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and travelling long distances.
Washington declared the Guards a terror group a year ago and the armed forces of both countries have had several face-offs in the Persian Gulf.
The US assassinated Quasem Soleimani, a general of the Revolutionary Guards, in an airstrike on January 3 in Baghdad.