Iran test-launches satellite missile

State media reports satellite will be launched by 2009; Ahmadinejad: Presence in space a necessity.

Iran missiles 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Iran missiles 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iran tested a missile capable of carrying satellites into space, Iranian state television said Monday, as part of a program to launch a research satellite in the near future. The rocket was launched from a new Iranian space center, inaugurated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The report claimed that the satellite itself would be launched by 2009. It is reported to be called Omid which means "Hope", and is said to be a low-altitude satellite. A successful satellite launch would mark a dramatic improvement in Teheran's missile capability. Ahmadinejad was present at the launch site, and gave the order for the launch himself. "Our presence in space is a necessity", said Ahmadinejad at the ceremony. "Any country that respects itself should control the most advanced technology...we are grateful to God for witnessing the first and determined step toward an Iranian satellite." The Iranian news agency IRNA said the satellite was intended for research, but did not detail any technical specifications, raising suspicions that it might also be capable of being used for intelligence and other strategic purposes. The report came on the heels of a successful Israeli satellite launch in January. The Israeli TecSar satellite, launched from India, began transferring its first footage to the control center in Yehud over the weekend.