Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian rocket successfully put an Iranian satellite into orbit on Tuesday.

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

About nine minutes after launch, it put 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, equipped with high-resolution cameras, would be used for environmental monitoring and would be fully under its control.

Tehran has said no other country has access to the information it collects and that it is used for civilian purposes only, but there are allegations that Russia may have used it to spy on Ukraine during military operations in Ukraine.

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

Iranian state television broadcast footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the launch in Kazakhstan.

The satellite will provide high-resolution surveillance images with a resolution of one meter per pixel, state TV quoted Iran’s Civil Space Agency as saying. Western civilian satellites offer about half a meter per pixel, while American spy satellites are thought to have higher resolution.

Iran has both a civilian and military space program, which the United States fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program. However, Iran has experienced a series of accidents and satellite launch failures in recent years.

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