Iranian rocket carrying a satellite is launched from an undisclosed site believed to be in Iran’s Semnan province, April 22, 2020. (AP)

December 30, 2021

Iran announced Thursday the successful launch of a satellite-carrier rocket into space with three research payloads, amid ongoing nuclear talks with world powers.

A spokesman of Iran’s defense ministry, Ahmad Hosseini, said that the satellite-carrying rocket Simorgh (which means phoenix in Persian) is the newest achievement of Iran’s space agency following Safir (ambassador) and Qassed (Ghassed meaning messenger).

Hosseini added, “For the first time, three devices were launched simultaneously to a distance of 470 kilometers at a speed of 7,350 meters per second”.

The spokesman did not elaborate on what devices the carrier took to space, nor if any object entered orbit around the Earth. He did not mention the exact time of the launch.

Simorgh, also called Safir Safir-2, is a larger orbital launcher than the previous models but all are expendable small-capacity orbital space launch vehicles. Safir placed the Omid satellite into an orbit with a 245.2 kilometer apogee in February 2009, and Qassed lifted Iran’s first military satellite, dubbed Noor, into orbit in April 2020. Its initial stage was propelled by a Ghadr medium range ballistic missile.

Earlier in mid-December, Iran’s communication minister said “there will be good news”about launching a satellite until March, after recent reports about preparations at a launch site following a series of setbacks due to failed launch attempts.

Issa Zarepour had saidthat Iran’s space program was put on the backburner during former president Hassan Rouhani’s eight-year administration (2013-2021), but now its budget has increased. Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi has allocated 12 times more money to the country’s space program in his new budget.

The launch took place amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA, while the previous launches were criticized by Washington.

The timing of today’s launch might have been designed as a message to the West that Iran is negotiating from a position of strength, and is not willing to scale down its controversial ballistic missile program.

Some foreign observers and governments have charged that Iran’s space program is a cover to justify its testing of ballistic missiles. Israel and the United States have said that Iran’s space program is against a UN resolution banning Iranian missiles with nuclear weapons capability.

Iran International

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.