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Iran launches Sorayya satellite, sets 'new record'

January 20, 2024 at 4:23 pm

A billboard featuring an image of the Iranian Qased satellite carrier is being displayed in a residential area in northwestern Tehran, on December 13, 2023. [Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Iran on Saturday announced the successful launch of a satellite into the highest orbit yet amid escalating tension with the West over its ballistic missile program, Anadolu reports.

In a statement published by state media, the aerospace unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it launched into orbit the Sorayya satellite with an indigenous Qaem 100 satellite carrier.

The satellite with a 50 kg payload was placed into an orbit 750 kilometers (460 miles) above the Earth’s surface by a three-stage Qaem 100 carrier, which is equipped to carry up to 100 kg, Communications and Information Technology Minister Isa Zarepour told state media.

The launch ceremony was among others attended by IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami and the chief of IRGC’s aerospace division, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

According to Iran’s state media, the launch set a “new record” in the country’s space program as it was placed in the 750-km orbit, more than previous launches.

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The launch of Sorayya is part of IRGC’s space program which has been a source of concern in the West.

Iran’s satellite launches have often been criticized by the US, linking them with the country’s ballistic missile program, claiming that it violates the Security Council resolution.

Tehran has rejected such claims, saying satellite launches are intended to help in research and agricultural activities.

In September last year, the country launched the imaging satellite Noor-3 into orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface with a Qassed launch vehicle.

Qassed was also used by the IRGC to launch the previous version of the satellite Noor-2 in March 2022, placing it into orbit 500 kilometers (311 miles) from the Earth’s surface.

The latest launch comes days after Iran fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, claiming to avenge recent attacks inside Iran and killing of IRGC commanders in Syria.