Simorgh rocket launched and tested at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre, Iran in this handout photo released by Tasnim News Agency on Thursday on July 27. Credit: Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Iran launched a rocket Thursday that it claimed could put a satellite into space but was criticized elsewhere as a missile test.

The Simorgh rocket, reportedly based on North Korea’s Unha vehicle, launched from a new facility, the Imam Khomeini Space Center.

The Simorgh is described as being able to place satellites weighing up to 250 kilograms into low Earth orbit, but it was unclear if this launch intended to place a payload into orbit.

The U.S. government criticized the launch, saying it violated a U.N. Security Council resolution that called on Iran to not develop ballistic missile technology. [Reuters]

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Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...