TEHRAN, Iran — Iran launched a rocket with a satellite carrier bearing three devices into space, authorities announced Thursday, without saying whether any of the objects had entered Earth’s orbit.
It was not clear when the launch happened or what devices the carrier brought with it.
Iran aired footage of the blastoff against the backdrop of negotiations in Vienna to restore Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. An eight round had been underway this week and is to resume after New Year’s holidays.
Previous launches have drawn rebukes from the United States. The U.S. State Department, Space Force, and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday’s announcement from Iran.
Ahmad Hosseini, a Defense Ministry spokesman, identified the rocket as a Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket that sent up the three devices 290 miles into the atmosphere.
“The performance of the space center and the performance of the satellite carrier was done properly,” Hosseini was quoted as saying.
Iran Mum About Rocket’s Performance
But hours later, Hosseini and other officials remained silent on the the status of the objects, suggesting the rocket had fallen short of placing its payload into the correct orbit.
Hosseini offered a speed for the satellite carrier that state-associated journalists reporting on the event indicated wouldn’t be enough to reach orbit.
Iran’s civilian space program has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, including fatal fires and a launchpad rocket explosion that drew the attention of former President Donald Trump.
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. Hosseini described the launch announced Thursday as “initial,” indicating more are on the way.
Television aired footage of the white rocket emblazoned with the words, “Simorgh satellite carrier” and the slogan “We can” shooting into the morning sky from Iran’s Imam Khomeini Spaceport. A state TV reporter at a nearby desert site hailed the launch as “another achievement by Iranian scientists.”
US: Iran Is Defying UN Order
The blast-offs have raised concerns in Washington about whether the technology used to launch satellites could advance Iran’s ballistic missile development. The United States says that such satellite launches defy a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Iran to steer clear of any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component.