Tuesday, December 6, 2022

US says ‘closely’ monitoring Iran’s space program

The United States has announced its military “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology." Tehran says it plans to carry out two more launches of its domestically-developed hybrid-propellant satellite carrier rocket called Zoljanah.

A Pentagon spokesman, US Army Maj. Rob Lodewick, said the American military “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology and how it may relate to advancements in its overall ballistic missile program.”

“Iranian aggression, to include the demonstrated threat posed by its various missile programs, continues to be a top concern for our forces in the region,” Lodewick added.

Asked about the preparations, State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington that the US urges Iran to de-escalate the situation.

“Iran has consistently chosen to escalate tensions. It is Iran that has consistently chosen to take provocative actions,” Price stated.

Iran has confirmed it plans to conduct two test-launches of the Zoljanah satellite carrier, which was designed and developed by experts at home, for research purposes, as the country speeds up efforts to promote its space industry.

“Three launches of the Zoljanah satellite carrier were planned for research; one has so far been conducted and two others will be carried out later,” said Ahmad Hosseini, spokesman of the Space Division of the Iranian Defense Ministry, on Wednesday.

The performance of the three-stage carrier, which uses compound fuel, can be evaluated in each launch, he added.

The satellite carrier, the official noted, weighs 52 tons and is 25.5 meters in length. It can carry loads of up to 220 kilograms at an orbit of 500 kilometers above the surface.

Iran’s defense ministry launched the Zoljanah satellite carrier into space for the first time in February 2021.

Earlier this year, the commander of the aerospace division of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said the country has mastered the technology of satellite carriers and tested its first such carrier using solid fuel.

“From now on, Iran will be able to launch a great number of satellites using low-cost engines,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh told a gathering of religious scholars in the Iranian city of Qom on January 13.

Elaborating on the test on an Iranian satellite carrier engine operating on solid fuel, Hajizadeh stated the test was “successfully carried out for the first time” in the country.

“During the past two years, all Iranian satellite carriers, which were tested, operated on liquid fuel. But in this test, we succeeded to use the solid-fuel engine with a 66-tonne thrust,” the Iranian commander added.

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