Iran Lofts Imaging Satellite into Orbit atop Safir Rocket

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Iran launched its second-ever domestically built satellite into orbit June 15.

The satellite, known as Rasad-1 (Observation-1), blasted off aboard an Iranian-made Safir rocket, the nation’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said. According to IRNA, Rasad-1 will be used for peaceful purposes: mapping and monitoring the Earth from an altitude of 260 kilometers.

“[The] Rasad satellite’s mission is establishing contact with Earth stations, obtaining orders from those stations, image taking from the Earth and dispatching those images along with telemetry information back to the Earth stations,” IRNA reported.

The U.S. Space Surveillance Network confirmed that Rasad-1 made orbit, adding it and the Safir rocket’s upper stage to its catalog of space objects.

Rasad-1 weighs about 15 kilograms, IRNA reported. Its launch comes two years after the liftoff of Iran’s first homegrown satellite, Omid (Hope), which launched in February 2009.

Iran’s fledgling space program has made other notable strides recently. Just this past March, for example, the nation launched a new rocket and space capsule designed to carry a monkey into orbit, according to IRNA.

That test flight apparently carried no live animals, but in February 2010 Iran launched a rat, two turtles and a worm on its Kavoshgar-3 rocket, the nation said.

Ultimately, Iran has said it aims to launch a human into space by 2020 and to put an astronaut on the Moon by 2025. The Islamic republic denies military motives for its space program, but its desire to be a major player in space is plain.

The “successful launching of Rasad is another long stride towards fixing the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the space,” IRNA reported.