Russian mission control confirms Khayyam satellite’s entry into orbit; Tehran tries to defuse suspicion that Moscow could use its satellite to spy on Ukraine
Moscow:: A Russian rocket has successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit. The Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 8:52 a.m. Moscow time (0552 GMT) Tuesday from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan
About nine minutes after launch, it put an Iranian satellite named Khayyam into orbit. It is named after the Persian scientist Omar Khayyam, who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Iran has said the satellite, equipped with a high-resolution camera, will be used for environmental monitoring and entirely under its control.
Tehran said no other country would have access to the information it collects, and it would only be used for civilian purposes. Nevertheless, there have been allegations that Russia may be using it to monitor Ukraine amid its military action.
If it operates successfully, the satellite will allow Iran to monitor its arch-enemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East.
Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as an “important landmark” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.
Iranian state television aired footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the liftoff in Kazakhstan. Tehran said the satellite would help improve productivity in the agriculture sector, survey water resources, manage natural disasters, confront deforestation and monitor border areas.
Citing Iran’s civilian space agency, state television said the satellite would provide high-resolution surveillance images with a one-meter-per-pixel definition. Western civilian satellites offer around half a meter per pixel, while U.S. spy satellites are believed to have even-greater definitions.
Iran has a civilian and military space program, which the U.S. fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program. However, Iran has recently seen a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches.