Report: Iran launches solid-fuel satellite rocket into space

Iran’s official news agency said the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards launched a solid-fuel satellite launch vehicle into space last week

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards launched a solid-fuel satellite launch vehicle into space last week, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The report quoted General Amilali Hajizad, head of the Guard’s aerospace division, as saying that the test was successful. This marks the first time Iran has used solid-fueled rockets instead of liquid-fueled rockets, he said. Iran will produce lighter rocket engines in further space programs, he said.

According to the general, the satellite carrier is made of composite material rather than metal – which he claims is “cost-effective”. Hajizadeh spoke with a group of clerics in the city of Qom, home of the Iranian seminary. He said Iran is firmly pursuing its goals in the aerospace and satellite industries.

However, composite materials are often more expensive to produce than their metal equivalents. Composites can also make the rocket lighter, so it can propel heavier satellites or payloads into orbit. State television did not broadcast any footage of the launch.

Satellite vehicles typically use liquid fuel, but solid-fuel rockets can be adapted for mobile launchers that can be driven anywhere on major road or rail systems. Pure solid-fuel rockets are primarily associated with ballistic missile systems.

Last month, Iran said it had launched a rocket into space with a satellite launcher carrying three units, but did not say whether anything had entered Earth’s orbit.

The U.S. State Department said at the time that it remained concerned about Iran’s space launch, which it claimed “poses a significant proliferation concern” for Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

The launch comes against the backdrop of Vienna’s attempt to revive Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. Iran, which has long said it does not seek nuclear weapons, insists its satellite launches and rocket tests have no military component.