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Russia Launches Iranian Satellite      08/09 06:21

   

   MOSCOW (AP) -- A Russian rocket on Tuesday 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 the launch, it placed the Iranian satellite called 
Khayyam into orbit. It's named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who 
lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

   Iran has said the satellite fitted with high-resolution camera will be used 
for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.

   Tehran said no other country will have access to information it gathers and 
it would be used for civilian purposes only, but there have been allegations 
that Russia may use it for surveillance of Ukraine amid its military action 
there.

   If it operates successfully, the satellite would give Iran the ability to 
monitor its archenemy 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 will 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 definition.

   Iran has both a civilian and military space program, which the U.S. fears 
could be used to advance its ballistic missile program. However, Iran has seen 
a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches over recent years.

 
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