Iran builds new space center

2012-06-02 17:48

Tehran - Iran is finishing construction of a new space centre that will allow it to soon launch more domestically made satellites into orbit, the country's defence minister said on Saturday.

The remarks by General Ahmad Vahidi's were the first confirmation that Iran is building a new space facility amid the stand-off with the West over Iran's controversial nuclear programme. The West is concerned the programme masks efforts to make atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies, insisting it's only for peaceful purposes.

Iran's ambitious space plans have also raised concerns in the West because of their possible military applications - the same rocket technology used to send satellites into orbit can also be retooled to make intercontinental warheads.

Vahidi, in comments carried by the official IRNA news agency, said the first satellite to be launched from the new centre will be the Tolo. It will be carried into orbit by the Iranian-made Simorgh light booster rocket, he said.

Vahidi didn't say where the new facility, which has been named after the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, is located.

Iran already has a major satellite launch complex near Semnan, 200km east of Tehran, and another space centre - a satellite monitoring facility - outside Mahdasht, about 70km west of the Iranian capital.

"Some 80% of the actual construction of the new space centre has been completed," Vahidi said, adding that the new facility will send "satellites from Iran, the regional countries and the world of Islam into orbit in the near future".

Iran's decades-old space programme is a key aspect of its efforts to achieve technological prowess similar to that of world powers. In Feb 2010, Iran announced it had successfully launched a menagerie of animals - including a mouse, two turtles and worms - into space on a research rocket.

Iran launched its first commercial satellite in 2005 on a Russian rocket in a joint project with Moscow, which is said to be a partner in transferring space technology to Iran. That same year, the government said it had allocated $500m for space projects for the next five years.

Iran's lofty space plans also include putting a man in orbit within less than a decade, despite the expense and technological challenges involved.

Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation and improve its telecommunications. Iranian officials also point to America's use of satellites to monitor conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and say they need similar capabilities for their security.

  • Man - 2012-06-02 18:05

    Greetings all non-fiddlers, General Agmet Vahidi here. Now we can shoot our nuclear bombs that we don't have (wink wink) right up their yanks.

      jaba.kov - 2012-06-05 05:56

      The race to build the most extremist state on Earth can’t seem to save Iran. The country, which is the fourth largest economy in the Muslim world after Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, may be heading for economic ruins. Iran’s currency, the Rial, has lost 71 percent of its value since September. Iran, like many other Middle-Eastern oil-rich nations, is dependent on petroleum export for its economy. Oil exports account for 80% of Iranian exports and foreign exchange earnings. However as they try building nuclear bombs Japan, India and South Korea stopped purchasing oil from Iran. Iran’s economic woes were only going to get worse in the near future if they continue to do 2 things; 1) threaten Israel with annihilation 2) at the same time trying to build a nuclear bomb. Iran should focus on feeding its people – not trying to build space stations.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-02 18:56

    Not gonna happen. Allow your people to elect their leaders freely, without adjusting election results and oppressing them. If not, see that freedom-wave that started in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria?

      Jan - 2012-06-02 20:24

      the only thing saving that country is oil and right now no oil is flowing so lets see where they get the money for space launches and feed their people.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-02 23:46

      Yeah right Michael. Election results are adjusted in the US, and Americans are oppressed. You're undermining the surge for greater human rights and freedoms in the Middle East. Why?

  • nkosikos - 2012-06-02 22:51

    Allah Ahmed. When Israel develops nuclear arsenal, its ok, BUT when Iran develops nuclear for energy some clowns cry foul. When Israel kills and Palestinians some idiots think its OK but when Syria does the same they cry human rights. Are there people with more rights?

      Larry - 2012-06-03 00:05

      More Syrian civilians have been killed in the last six months by their own government than all the Palestinians killed in conflict with Israel over the last decade. For the intellectually or language challenged among you, a decade means ten (10) years.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-03 00:19

      I hear your confusion. The Iranian regime is not the Iranian people. This is important to understand. The IAEA (the UN nuclear agency) has specifically stated the Iranian regime is hiding two nuclear facilities. Palestinians attack Israel almost daily. They've been doing this for more than 60 years since Israel was created. They know Israel is going to defend herself. When she does they get hurt and cry to high heaven, wanting to make people feel sorry for them and enraged at Israel.. It's a tragic victim-martyr game they're playing which is only causing them more pain and suffering. It is not taking them closer to peace and prosperity. All they have to do is choose peace. Right now. And it's over. Done. The royals will rally around them and shower them with all sorts of help and gifts. The so-called ruler of Syria has never been elected. He and his family have held onto power for 48 years, the same as Apartheid. Syrians want nothing more than the right to vote, like we have in South Africa. Assad has been killing, maiming, detaining, torturing and raping them by the tens of thousands. Now, even the leader of the UN peace mission has said it's enough, Assad must stop oppressing Syrians.

  • david.dahl.908 - 2012-06-03 00:41

    Why a picture of a nuclear facility in a story about Iran's new Space Center? The propaganda machines must be getting frustrated!

      Jameel - 2012-06-03 01:12

      reminds me when they took the pictures of Afghan or Irag showing WMD from space, of which none was ever found.

      Larry - 2012-06-03 15:49

      David, Iran are not in any economic position to send a rocket to the moon. Their purpose for a space centre may be a clandestine launch pad for IBM's.

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