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Russia successfully launched Iran satellite

MOSCOW –

A Russian rocket on Tuesday successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit.

The Soyuz rocket took off as scheduled at 8:52 a.m. Moscow time (0552 GMT) Tuesday from the Russian-chartered Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

About nine minutes after launch, it placed an Iranian satellite called Khayyam into orbit. It is named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Iran said the satellite with a high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will be completely under its control.

Tehran has said no other country will have access to the information it collects and that the information will only be used for civilian purposes, but there have been allegations that Russia could use it to monitor Ukraine in the context of their military action there.

If successful, the satellite will give Iran the ability to monitor its archenemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as “an important turning point” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

Iranian state television broadcast live footage of the launch, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the take-off ceremony in Kazakhstan. Tehran says the satellite will help improve productivity in agriculture, water resource surveying, disaster management, dealing with deforestation and monitoring border areas.

Quoting Iran’s civil space agency, state television said the satellite would provide high-resolution surveillance images with a resolution of one meter per pixel. Western civilian satellites provide about half a meter per pixel, while American spy satellites are said to have even greater definition.

Iran has both a civilian and a military space program, which the United States fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program. However, Iran has seen a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches in recent years.

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