Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket called ‘Simorgh’ into space on 27 July 2017.
The launch took place at the Imam Khomeini National Space Station in Semnan, some 220 kilometers (138 miles) east of Tehran.
The development marks a significant step forward for the Islamic Republic's young space program. It also raises alarm among the nation’s adversaries who fear that the same technology could be used to produce long-range missiles. The U.S. State Department has termed the launch as "provocative."
The rocket is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 250 kilograms (550 pounds).
Iran’s Space Programme
• The country has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit over the past decade.
• In 2013, it launched a monkey into space.
• However, the country recently abandoned its plans of potentially sending humans into the orbit citing cost as the main reason.
• Iran’s satellite-launch program falls under the responsibility of the country’s defence ministry, which has denied that the space program is a cover for weapons development.
• The head of Iran’s space agency expressed interest in cooperating with NASA for the first-time ever in October 2016.
• The nation has also offered to share its scientific findings and satellite data with other countries.
Key Concerns of the US
• According to the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers, such tests are allowed.
• However, American officials argue that they violate the spirit of the accord that saw the Islamic Republic limit its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
• Iran has pursued a satellite launch program for years.
• The U.S. and its allies worry that the same technology could be used to develop long-range missiles.
Prior to this launch, Iran had launched an imaging satellite called ‘Fair’ into the orbit in February 2015. The launch happened while Iran was negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
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