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Iran says it has launched a test ‘tugboat’ into suborbital space


TEHRAN, Iran (UKTN) — Iranian state media said on Tuesday that the government has launched a space tug that can move satellites between orbits.

State television said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry.

Hassan Salarieh, head of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state television that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in the near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can take a satellite from one orbit to another.

Iran has long been conducting a space program that the government says is aimed at peaceful ends. The country has both a civilian and military space program, which the US fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program.

In June, Tehran had launched a solid-fuel rocket into space, and in August a Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit. It is named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

However, Iran has seen a series of accidents and failed satellite launches in recent years

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps unveiled its own secret space program in April 2020 by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure, parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces.

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