A telecommunications satellite (illustration)
A telecommunications satellite (illustration)Israel News Photo: file

Iranian media claimed on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic successfully launched a space satellite into orbit. If the report is accurate, it would be the first time a satellite was placed in orbit from a launch pad within Iran.

In August, Iran announced that it had successfully launched its own satellite carrier, Safir 1, which would "pave the way for the country to send a lightweight telecommunications satellite... into orbit in the near future." Current reports in government-controlled Iranian media say that the Omid ("Hope" in Persian) satellite was sent into space by the Safir 2 early Tuesday.

Iran claims the Omid is both a scientific research satellite and a "lightweight telecommunications satellite," equipped with two frequency bands and eight antennae. It will transmit information "while orbiting the planet 15 times per day," according to Iranian media; in August it was said the Omid would pass over Iran "six times a day for research purposes." It will remain in orbit for anywhere from one to three months, Iranian sources said, returning with data "that will help Iranian experts send an operational satellite into space."

For the Islamic Republic, the domestic launch is "ushering in an era of independence in its space program," according to Iran's Press TV

In a speech marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution in the country, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "Dear people of Iran, your children have sent Iran's first domestic satellite into orbit... Iran's official presence in space has been added to the pages of history."

While Omid is the first Iranian satellite launched from within Iran, it is not Iran's first orbiting satellite. In 2005, Iran's first satellite was launched from Russia with Russian rocket technology. A joint Iranian-Chinese-Thai satellite was reportedly launched in 2008 from China. Iran was the 43rd nation with satellites in space and has now become, assuming the Iranian announcement is accurate, only the eighth to have independently launched a domestically produced satellite.

By 2010, Iranian officials said, Iran would send another three satellites into space, in order to "improve national disaster management programs and the country's telecommunications network." The Islamic Republic also said it plans to have an astronaut in space by 2021.