Iran plans to launch a communications satellite by late 2011 with no outside help, a top Iranian official said Friday, after Italy and Russia declined to put it into orbit.
The move reflected Teheran's frustration with the two countries as it tries to push ahead with an ambitious space program, which has worried world powers because the same rocket technology used to launch satellites can also be used for military purposes.
Israeli media have claimed that the new Iranian satellite, named Misbah, or "Lantern" in Farsi, is a spy satellite. Iran says the satellite, which is to be launched into a low-earth orbit, is to assist in data communication.
Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour touted the decision to launch the satellite as a show of Iran's progress in space technology.
"Our capability to launch a satellite has increased ... we hope to launch Mesbah satellite-2 ourselves" by the end of 2011, Taqipour said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.