Iran has launched a solid-fueled rocket into space. Defense Ministry Spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said Zuljanah, a 25.5 meter-long rocket, is capable of carrying a satellite of 220 kilograms that will ultimately gather data in low-earth orbit and promote Iran’s space industry.
The US, however, believes it to be part of a military ballistic missile research program to develop long-range nuclear strike capabilities, Russian TV network RT reported.
The footage of the countdown and blastoff was aired by Iranian television on Sunday, but it was not clear exactly when or where the rocket was launched. The projectile is said to be a three-stage Satellite Launch Vehicle dubbed Zuljanah, which uses both solid and liquid fuels.
A spokesman for Iran’s Defense Ministry said the launch was conducted for “predetermined research purposes,” and claimed it proved that Zuljanah is competitive with the world’s top satellite carriers in technical aspects, according to Press TV.
The 25.5-meter-long rocket is reportedly designed to carry a single 220-kilogram or multiple smaller satellites into orbit.
While the take-off appeared to go smoothly, as it did during a sub-orbital flight last February, the Defense Ministry did not clarify if the latest test was successful or whether it carried any satellites.
Meanwhile, the White House called the move “unhelpful and destabilizing.”
Washington seeks to impose restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program as part of any future nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
Iran has invested heavily in rocket technology for military application, citing the need for a credible conventional missile deterrence against the US and its regional allies, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Being able to place satellites into orbit would be beneficial to the Iranian military, boosting its surveillance and communication capabilities.