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Observing satellite launched by modified Iranian missile

Posted: February 3, 2012

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Iran launched its third satellite Friday, demonstrating a maturing space and missile capability as tensions mount over the country's nuclear program.

Credit: Iran Press TV
The Navid satellite launched before sunrise from a military base in northern Iran. A two-stage Safir rocket, possibly featuring upgrades to increase its lift capacity, boosted the cube-shaped satellite into an orbit with an altitude between 155 miles and 230 miles, according to state news agencies.

Iran did not release the exact time of the launch.

The 72-foot-tall Safir rocket is based on the Shahab 3 booster, Iran's most advanced ballistic missile. Upgrades to the Shahab 3 missile could put some regions of Central and Western Europe in range of Iran.

The 110-pound Navid satellite is the largest and heaviest spacecraft orbited by Iran so far. Successful space launchings in 2009 and 2011 shot the 59-pound Omid communications satellite and the 33-pound Rasad observation platform into orbit.

Thursday was the two-year anniversary of the launch of Omid, Iran's first satellite.

Navid translates to promise of science and industry in Persian.

The launch came amid Iranian celebrations of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported the Navid satellite carries a camera for higher-precision imagery of Earth. The official media outlet was quoting Hamid Fazeli, head of the Iranian Space Agency.

Fazeli said the spacecraft will collect weather data and monitor natural disasters.

Iranian news agencies said the Navid satellite was built by students at Sharif University of Technology. Iranian media reported the spacecraft was designed and constructed entirely with domestic technologies.

Friday's launch came the same week reports emerged that Israel could be months away from a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities over fears the program could soon produce a weapon.