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Iran launches satellite amid strict sanctions

Launch of first locally built satellite coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution

Iran is courting controversy again with the launch of its first locally built satellite late last night, despite being under strict United Nations and US sanctions.

The launch of the Omid (Hope) data-processing satellite on the Safir-2 rocket coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the directive of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

After orbiting for one to three months, it will return to earth with data that will be used to send an operational satellite into space.

Omid is the first satellite to be constructed entirely in Iran and is another major milestone for the country’s space programme. When Safir-2 was launched in August last year, initial media reports claimed the rocket carried Omid, which was later denied by officials who stated that only a test satellite had been onboard.

State news agency IRNA revealed that the project was “launched upon the guidelines of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on developing national strategic technologies in line with the Software Movement underway by Iranian universities,” adding that the its “main objective is to prepare the grounds for promoting national space industry in Iran.”

Iran’s surge in space activity has done nothing to ease mounting concerns from the United States and other Western powers that suspect the country is amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

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