Iran has successfully into low earth orbit its first spacecraft, the military satellite, Noor (Light) designed to gather intelligence from around the Middle East.
The satellite was placed into an orbit located 425 kilometers above the Earth's surface by a two-stage carrier Qassed (Envoy), the country's Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday quoting government sources.
The launched which took place early Wednesday, is the second in two months. The first, of the Zafar ("Victory") satellite failed after its launch on 9 February due to the rocket not gaining enough velocity. Iran had claimed then that the Zafar satellite was designed to gather data on earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The February launch had come amidst US allegations that the satellite launching rockets could be turned into missiles and that the recent unsuccessful launch of a Zafar satellite was part of Iran’s missile programme.
However, Iran’s defence minister Hatami had said that while the carrier doesn't have any military applications and the will be used only for defensive purposes by the Islamic Republic.
The Noor satellite is similar to the earlier Zafar satellite which had failed to reach its designated orbit. It was built by Iran’s University of Science and Technology on a project awarded by the Iranian Space Agency (ISA).
The expected activity time of the Zafar is said to 18-24 months. It weighs about 90 kilograms and is equipped with four color cameras to capture the Earth's surface with a resolution of 80 meters.
The Noor has similar features expect that the resolution of its cameras should be higher. A resolution of 10 meters is required if it is to gather data for military purposes.