As noted here, the same technology is involved in ballistic missile development, and close Iranian ally North Korea has set a strong precedent for using a “space” program as a cover for its missile projects.
“Iran successfully test launches rocket set to carry satellite,” from the Associated Press, August 17:
Iran test launched a rocket it plans to use to carry a research satellite into orbit, state television reported Sunday.
Saturday’s test of the two-stage rocket, called the Safir, or Ambassador, was successful, state TV said, as it broadcast images of the nighttime launch.
It said the Omid research satellite will gather atmospheric data from a low orbit but did not give a date for its launch.
Iran has long held the goal of developing a space program.
In 2005, it launched its first commercial satellite on a Russian rocket in a joint project with Moscow, which appears to be the main partner in transferring space technology to Iran.
Iran first tested a rocket it said was capable of delivering a satellite in February, saying that trial was also successful. It said then that it planned two more test launches before attempting to put its first domestically built satellite into orbit.
The country’s fledgling space program, like its nuclear program, has provoked unease abroad. The same technology used to put satellites into space can also be used to deliver warheads.
The United States called the February 4 launch “just another troubling development,” saying it was a cause for concern about Iran’s continuing development of medium- and long-range missiles.
Meanwhile, Iran claimed Sunday it has increased the range of its warplanes, allowing them to fly as far as Israel and back without refueling.
State TV quoted air force chief Gen. Ahmad Mighani as saying Iranian warplanes can now fly 3,000 kilometers without refueling. He didn’t specify the aircraft type or explain how the range was extended.
Israel is about 1,000 kilometers from Iran.
Such a range could be achieved by using external fuel tanks attached to the wings or fuselage that can be released when empty…