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Iran plans to launch new satellite in August

RIA Novosti

14:26 07/07/2010

MOSCOW, July 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian telecommunications minister announced plans to launch a new domestically-developed satellite into orbit at the end of August, the Mehr news agency said Wednesday.

"The Rasad 1 satellite will be launched into space by an Iranian carrier rocket during the government week," Reza Taghipour, who is also the administrator of the Iranian Space Agency, was quoted as saying.

The so-called government week, which marks the achievements of the Iranian Cabinet, is celebrated at the end of August.

Iran has made significant progress in developing its space industry since the launch of its first commercial satellite, Sina-1, into orbit on board a Russian carrier rocket.

Iran's first research satellite, Omid (Hope), designed for gathering information and testing equipment, was orbited in February 2009 and successfully completed its mission on April 25 the same year.

Since launching the Omid, Tehran has unveiled three new satellites (Tolou, Mesbah II and Navid) and one carrier rocket.

Western powers suspect Iran of using its space program to develop its ballistic missile capabilities.

Iran successfully launched last year an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of a Navy exercise, dubbed Great Prophet 3, in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

With a reported range of 2,000 kilometers and armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead, the Shahab-3 puts Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.

Some Western and Russian sources claim that Iran may be currently running a program, dubbed Project Koussar, to develop a ballistic missile with a range of 4,000-5,000 km (2,500-3,300 miles).

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