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Iran Launches First Home-Built Satellite into Space

Iran says it launched its first domestically built satellite late Monday. The launch apparently was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution and was shown on Iran's Press TV.

The satellite, dubbed Omid-1, which means "hope" in Persian, was reportedly launched using a two-stage rocket. Iran's official news agency, IRNA, says the Safir-2 rocket that transported the satellite is an upgraded version of the Safir-1.

Iranian commentators noted the launch coincided with celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution. It also comes at a time when the U.S. and Europe are anxious over Iran's nuclear ambitions and its deployment of long-range ballistic missile technology.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who reportedly took part in the launching, addressed his countrymen, congratulating them on the achievement

"Dear people of Iran," he said, "your children have sent Iran's first domestic satellite into orbit. May this be a step towards justice and peace." He says Iran's official presence in space has been added to the pages of history.

Paul Ingram, who is the Executive Director of the British American Security Information Council, says details of the launch are still somewhat murky, but if Iran actually has succeeded in sending a satellite into space, it would be a troubling development.

"Well, it is very difficult to get full details on the launch, but if it is actually the successful launch of a satellite and it is reasonably stable, then it suggests that they have cracked one of the key stages towards an intercontinental ballistic missile capability, which of course would be quite serious because that is a shift from intermediate range, which we knew they had, to something a lot further," he said.

The launch follows a new conciliatory tone that President Obama struck towards Iran, offering a conditional dialogue after years of mounting tension over fears that Tehran wants to develop nuclear missiles, something Iran's leaders deny.

Iranian President Ahmedinejad also reportedly called the Omid-1 satellite launching "a message of brotherhood and peace" to the world, dismissing Western complaints that Iran's space program has military objectives.