Iranian opposition officials have said the launch was a failure, contradicting statements made by Iran’s Defense Ministry spokesman.
By Associated Press and World Israel News
Iran said Thursday it launched a rocket with a satellite carrier bearing three devices into space, though it’s unclear if any of the objects entered orbit around the Earth.
The state TV report, as well as others by semiofficial news agencies, did not say when the launch was conducted nor what devices the carrier brought with it. However, the launch comes amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal. Previous launches have drawn rebukes from the United States.
Ahmad Hosseini, a Defense Ministry spokesman, identified the rocket used as a Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket. He said the three devices were sent up 470 kilometers (290 miles) and that the launch was conducted from Iran’s new space station named after Imam Khomeini.
Hosseini was quoted as saying the “performance of the space center and the performance of the satellite carrier was done properly,” a statement that has been challenged by reports by Iranian opposition officials that say that the launch was a failure because the rocket did reach the required velocity to reach orbit.
No Iranian official confirmed whether the objects launched reached orbit.
Iran has suffered a series of setbacks in its space program in recent launches.
Iranian state media recently offered a list of upcoming planned satellite launches for the Islamic Republic’s civilian space program. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard runs its own parallel program that successfully put a satellite into orbit last year.
Conducting a launch amid the Vienna talks fits the hard-line posture struck by Tehran’s negotiators, who already described six previous rounds of diplomacy as a “draft,” exasperating Western nations. Germany’s new foreign minister has gone as far as to warn that “time is running out for us at this point.”