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Iran launches three satellites simultaneously for first time

The Simorgh (Phoenix) rocket successfully placed three satellites in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers, Iranian officials said. The rocket suffered a number of failures in the past.

Iran said on Sunday it had simultaneously launched three satellites into orbit, nearly a week after the launch of a research satellite by the Revolutionary Guards.

"Three Iranian satellites have been successfully launched into orbit for the first time," state television reported.

The launch comes amid heightened tensions in the wider Middle East over Israel's ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, sparking fears of a regional conflict.

What do we know about the launch?

Footage released by Iranian state television showed the overnight launch of the missile, which bore the slogan "We Can" in Farsi, likely a reference to previous failures. 

The two-stage, liquid-fueled Simorgh (Phoenix) rocket carried the satellites and placed them in a minimum orbit of 450 kilometers (280 miles). There have been five consecutive failed launches for the Simorgh program, a satellite-carrying rocket.

The Mahda satellite, which weighs about 32 kilograms and was developed by Iran's space agency, is designed to test advanced satellite subsystems, the official IRNA news agency said.

Isa Zarepour, Iran's minister of information and communications technology, said Mahda has already sent signals back to Earth.

The other two, Kayhan 2 and Hatef, weigh less than 10 kilograms each and are designed to test space-based positioning technology and narrow-band communications, IRNA added.

Western criticism of Iran's space program

Last week, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched the Soraya research satellite into space. Britain, France and Germany condemned the launch in a statement rejected by Iran as "interventionist."

Western governments, including the United States, have repeatedly warned Iran against such launches, saying the same technology can be used for ballistic missiles, including those designed to deliver a nuclear warhead.

UN sanctions related to Iran's ballistic missile program expired last October.

Iran has countered that it is not seeking nuclear weapons and that its satellite and rocket launches are for civilian and defense purposes only.

The successful launch of its first military satellite, Nour-1, into orbit in April 2020 drew a sharp rebuke from the United States.

Second publication by courtesy of DW


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