Iranian Media: Tehran Launches Rocket Into Space

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -
Iranian satellite carrier rocket “Simorgh” is launched in an unknown location in Iran, in this picture obtained on Thursday. (Ministry of Defense of Iran/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

Iran said Thursday it launched a rocket with a satellite carrier bearing three devices into space, though it’s unclear if any of the objects entered orbit around Earth.

The state media report, as well as others by semiofficial news agencies, did not say when the launch was conducted or what devices the carrier brought with it. However, the launch comes amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal. Previous launches have drawn rebukes from the United States.

Ahmad Hosseini, a Defense Ministry spokesman, identified the rocket used as a Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket. He said the three devices were sent up 470 kilometers (290 miles).

Hosseini was quoted as saying the “performance of the space center and the performance of the satellite carrier was done properly.”

However, no one immediately said if the objects launched reached orbit. Iran has suffered a series of setbacks in its space program in recent launches.

In this satellite photo by Planet Labs Inc., a support vehicle stands parked alongside a massive white gantry that typically houses a rocket on the launchpad as activity is seen at the Imam Khomeini spaceport in Semnan province, Iran, Dec. 11. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

Iranian state media recently offered a list of upcoming planned satellite launches for the Islamic Republic’s civilian space program. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard runs its own parallel program that successfully put a satellite into orbit last year.

Conducting a launch amid the Vienna talks fits the hardline posture struck by Tehran’s negotiators, who already described six previous rounds of diplomacy as a “draft,” exasperating Western nations. Germany’s new foreign minister has gone as far as to warn that “time is running out for us at this point.”

Satellite images seen by The Associated Press suggested a launch was imminent earlier this month.