TEHRAN, Feb 3: Iran hailed on Wednesday the successful launch of a home-built satellite carrying a rat, turtles and worms, amid western concerns Tehran was using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons.
Iranian state television said the Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket carried a capsule containing ‘live animals’ – marking Iran’s first experiment in sending living creatures into space.
Television footage showed a white rat on its back in a container with tubes protruding from its mouth. Two other containers contained respectively several dark worms and small turtles.
France said it had received news of the launch of the rocket with ‘great concern.’ “This announcement can only reinforce the concerns of the international community as Iran in parallel develops a nuclear programme that has no identifiable civil aims,” a spokesman said in Paris.
The Isna news agency said the capsule carrying the creatures returned to earth safely after a U-shaped voyage as planned, but it did not elaborate on the condition of the animals.
“It is a great job that living organisms can be sent into space, we do experiments on them and they return to earth,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said as he welcomed the launch.
The Ilna news agency quoted in a report Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying the “biological data of the animals will be sent to us for evaluation.”
State television showed footage of the rocket being fired from a desert launch-pad leaving behind a thick plume of smoke.
A few minutes later the grainy images showed the capsule detaching from the rocket and spinning in orbit.
The television also carried pictures of Mr Ahmadinejad unveiling another home-built rocket designed to carry satellites, dubbed Simorgh (Phoenix).
The milk-bottle shaped rocket, emblazoned in blue with the words ‘Satellite Carrier Simorgh,’ is equipped to carry a 100kg satellite 500km into orbit, the television report said.
The 27-metre tall multi-stage rocket weighs 85 tons and its liquid fuel propulsion system has a thrust of up to 100 tons, the report added.
Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran was “going to send a satellite 500 kilometres up. The next steps are 700 and 1,000 kilometres. Everyone knows that reaching the 1,000 kilometre orbit allows you to reach all orbits.”—AFP