Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Wednesday it had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit, at a time of heightened tensions with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes.
U.S. officials have said they fear long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.
“Iran’s first military satellite, Noor, was launched this morning from the central desert of Iran. The launch was successful and the satellite reached orbit,” state TV said.
The satellite, which the Guards said was named Noor, or “Light”, was orbiting 425 km (264 miles) above the earth’s surface, they said in a statement on their website.
The force said it used the Qased, or “Messenger”, satellite carrier to launch Noor, without giving details of the technology.
“The three-stage Qased satellite launcher uses a combination of solid and liquid fuels,” it said.
TV footage showed the satellite carrier was inscribed with a verse of the Koran that Muslims often recite when travelling: “Glory to Him who has subjected this to us, as we could never have done it by our own efforts”.