On April 22nd, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that the “Noor Satellite”, the first Iranian military satellite, was successfully launched and set into orbit.
“The first satellite of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been successfully launched into orbit by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the Guards’ Sepahnews website reported.
“This action will be a great success and a new development in the field of space for Islamic Iran,” it added.
The IRGC said the satellite had reached an orbit of 425 kilometers (264 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The two-stage launch took place in Iran’s Central Desert, it said, adding that it is the first military satellite Iran has ever launched.
The satellite was sent into orbit using a Ghased, or “Messenger,” satellite carrier, the IRGC said. It is a system that’s not been announced in the past.
The homegrown satellite was launched with a three-stage satellite carrier, dubbed Qassed.
The operation was carried from a launch pad in Dasht-e Kavir, a large desert in central Iran.
Iran has suffered several failed satellite launches in recent months.
Most recently, in February, the Zafar 1 communications satellite launch failed.
The country also experienced two failed launches – Payam and Doosti – in 2019, as well as a launchpad rocket explosion in August 2019 and a separate fire at the Imam Khomeini Space Center that authorities said killed three researchers in February 2019.
According to Washington, such satellite launches go against a UN Security Council that calls on Iran to refrain from activity related to ballistic missiles capable of launching nuclear weapons. And the US maintains that these tests and launches are just an excuse for Tehran to further its ballistic missile capabilities.
Michael Horowitz, head of intelligence at LeBeck International, told Euronews that the launch was a significant breakthrough for Iran given failed attempts as recently as last February.
“Washington is likely to watch this development closely: Iran’s space program is closely related to its missile and nuclear ones. If Iran is capable of launching heavy military satellites, it may be able to also mount nuclear warheads on intercontinental missiles.
I think this sends a clear message and is part of Iran’s effort to pressure both Washington and the Europeans after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA.”
Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, previously maintained its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. But this satellite was launched by the IRGC.
Tehran also maintains that it hasn’t violated a UN resolution on its ballistic missile programme as it only “called upon” Iran not to conduct such tests.
The launch also came on the IRGC’s birthday, which was established on April 22nd, 1979. They were greeted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Greetings to the personnel of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps and their families on the occasion of the foundation of the IRGC,” the message said.
“I appreciate the IRGC for its good performance and efforts, and I pray for them,” it added.
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