Iran Says Launch Puts Biological Capsule in Orbit

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PARIS — The Iranian government announced Feb. 3 that it had successfully launched into low Earth orbit a capsule containing live animals and featuring a camera mounted on the vehicle that provided a live video stream of the rocket’s ascent.

The Feb. 2 launch of the Kavoshgar 3 rocket came a year after Iran’s launch of its 27-kilogram Omid store-and-forward telecommunications satellite and was accompanied by a Feb. 3 unveiling of three new Iranian-built satellite designs and a new rocket engine.

Iran’s government-controlled Press TV on Feb. 3 broadcast videos of the launch as seen from the ground and from the rocket-mounted camera. Iranian officials said the rocket carried a rat, called Helmiz 1, as well as two turtles and a worm.

The expected duration of the capsule experiment was not disclosed.

Earlier versions of the Kavoshgar rocket were launched in February 2008 and November 2008.

At a Feb. 3 ceremony attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Aerospace Organization unveiled three new telecommunications satellites, called Toulou, Mesbah 2 and Navid. Also unveiled at the ceremony was the Simorgh engine, which according to the Press TV report is designed to place a 100-kilogram satellite into a 500-kilometer orbit.

Iran’s Omid telecommunications satellite was launched in February 2009 into an orbit that the U.S. Space Surveillance Network tracking stations said had an apogee of 382 kilometers and a perigee of 242 kilometers, with an orbital inclination of 55 degrees relative to the equator.

Reaza Taghipour Anvari, the head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, said in May that the Omid satellite had already re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.