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Iran Claims Successful Launch of Satellite-carrying Rocket

  • VOA News

FILE - People are seen gathered around a model of Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket displayed during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2016.

Iran announced Thursday that it had successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space.

State television in Iran claimed the “Simorgh” rocket, which means phoenix in Farsi, is capable of carrying a 250 kilogram satellite as far as 500 kilometers above Earth, but did not elaborate on the payload of the rocket launched Thursday.

"The Imam Khomeini Space Center was officially opened with the successful test of the Simorgh (Phoenix) space launch vehicle," state television reported.

The launch of the rocket comes after the United States moved earlier this month to increase economic sanctions placed on Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Thursday’s launch did not violate the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was signed by Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, although the U.S. has expressed concern that the rocket technology being developed by Iran could potentially be adapted to long-range missiles.

Earlier this week, Iran announced it would open a new facility to produce missiles capable of targeting aircrafts and cruise missiles.

Iran, in the past, has successfully launched several dummy satellites. In 2013, the country said it successfully launched a monkey into space and was later able to retrieve the animal alive.

Iran hailed the monkey launch as its next step toward putting a human into space, but earlier this year, an Iranian official said the space agency cut plans to launch a human into space due to cost concerns.

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