Iran claims success in space rocket launch

Iran says it has successfully launched its first rocket into space as part of its plan to send 5 satellites into orbit by 2010. State-run television quoted Iran's aerospace research centre as saying the rocket was carrying cargo for research.

They later said the rocket would not go into orbit, but rather return to Earth after reaching an altitude of 150 kilometres.

Meanwhile, military experts say that if Tehran has sent a rocket into space, it means they have made a technological breakthrough that could allow them to build longer range missiles.

‘This first launch means that the Iranians have probably adjusted a modern Shehab-3 missile with an action range of 1,500 kilometeres. Another option is that they have copied a North Korean long range missile Taepodong-2, fired by North Korea. At any rate, this test is serving two purposes. Firstly, to once again show Iran's military might and prove it is a missile power. Secondly, it is aimed at imposing pressure on  the international community and the United Nations Security Council over the decisions on the sanctions against Iran,’ Anatoly Tsyganok, Head of the Centre for Military Forecasting, commented.

Iran has previously made clear its intentions to launch satellites, including commercial ones, into space. So far it has sent just one satellite into orbit – with the help of a Russian launch vehicle in 2005.

The country’s own Sina satellite was recently exhibited at the Aerospace University of Tehran.

Iran claims the satellite is meant for peaceful purposes only.