Iran’s Revolutionary Guards tested a new satellite-carrying rocket on Saturday, state media reported, a development likely to anger the United States.
Washington fears the same long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran has regularly denied having any such intention.
“The flight test of this satellite carrier with a solid-fueled engine … was successfully completed,” state news agency IRNA reported.
Rocket will put satellites into orbit
The Ghaem 100, Iran’s first three-stage launch vehicle, will be able to place satellites weighing 80 kilograms in an orbit of 500 kilometers from the Earth’s surface, IRNA said.
Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division which developed the Ghaem 100, said the rocket would be used to launch Iran’s Nahid satellite for the telecommunications ministry, state media reported.
Saturday’s operation tested the first sub-orbital stage of the rocket, the reports added.
One of many efforts
Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programs in the Middle East, has had several failed satellite launches in the past few years, blamed on technical issues.
A United Nations resolution in 2015 called on Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following an agreement with six world powers.
Iran says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons, and therefore, the resolution does not apply to its ballistic missiles, which Tehran had described as an important deterrent and retaliatory force.