(AFP) – Feb 11, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran is to launch two more rockets into space in the next few months, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Monday, after a firing of a rocket earlier this month sparked international concern.
"Two other rockets will be launched so that we can then send a satellite into space," Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Tehran broadcast live on state television.
"We home that Iran's first home-produced satellite will be launched in the summer," he added, reiterating a prediction made by other Iranian officials who said the satellite would be launched in May.
On February 4, Iran fired a rocket into space to mark the opening of its first space centre, triggering swift condemnation from the United States amid continued tensions over the Iranian nuclear drive.
Ahmadinejad hailed the launch of the rocket, named Kavoshgar-1, as a success and for the first time gave some technical details about its launch.
"The first rocket that was launched had three parts. It was a success," he said in the speech marking the 29th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
He said the first section of the rocket detached after 90 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute while the second entered the earth's atmosphere after 300 seconds.
"The third section of the rocket, which contained the probe, was sent towards orbit."
"The probe is sending information on wind, temperature, pressure to allow the sending of new probes into space," he added.
Iran has been pursuing a space programme for several years, and in October 2005 a Russian-made Iranian satellite named Sina-1 was put into orbit by a Russian rocket.
But the satellite Iran plans to launch in summer -- already named Omid (hope) -- would be its first domestically manufactured probe and the first to be launched from Iranian territory.
The United States, which has led international efforts to pressure Iran to freeze controversial nuclear activities, has said Tehran's activities in space risked further isolating the Islamic republic.
"It's unfortunate that they continue to do that because it further isolates the country from the rest of the world," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino at the time.
The new Iranian space centre, located in the remote desert of the northern Semnan province, includes an underground control centre and launch pad which will be used to fire Omid into space.
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