Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian rocket successfully launched 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 Russia’s leased launch facility at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

About nine minutes after launch, it placed the 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 a high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.

Tehran has said that no other country would have access to the information it collects and that it would only be used for civilian purposes, but there have been allegations that Russia may use it to monitor the Ukraine as part of its military action there.

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

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

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

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

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