IRAN LAUNCHES FIRST SPACE CENTRE

Iran fired a rocket designed to carry its first locally-made research satellite next year and to mark the opening of its first space centre,

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Iran fired a rocket designed to carry its first locally-made research satellite next year and to mark the opening of its first space centre, taking another technological advance but triggering swift condemnation from the United States. The space centre, located in the remote desert of western Iran, will be used to launch Iran’s first home-produced satellite “Omid” (Hope) in May or June this year, officials said. Iran has been pursuing a space programme for several years, and in October 2005 a Russian-made Iranian satellite was put into orbit by a Russian rocket. But Omid would be Iran’s first domestically manufactured probe and the first to be launched from Iranian territory. Iran has said it plans to construct and launch several more satellites over the next three years. Experts say the space centre is a proof on how advanced the Iranian technology is. The US condemnation is not surprising. The White House was quick to slam Iran’s experience as “unfortunate.”