Iran Says it Launched Animals into Orbit
This still from a video by the Fars News Agency posted to the Omid satellite Web site shows the Safir-2 rocket launch in February 2009.
Credit: Omid-Sat/Fars News Agency.

PARIS ? The Iranian government announced Feb. 3 that it had successfully launched live animals into space.

The feat was recorded by a camera mounted on the vehicle that provided a live video stream of the rocket?s ascent.

The Feb. 2 launch of the Kavoshgan 3 rocket came a year after Iran?s launch of its 27-kilogram Omid store-and-forward telecommunications satellite and was accompanied by a Feb. 3 unveiling of three new Iranian-built satellite designs and a new rocket engine.

Iran?s government-controlled Press TV on Feb. 3 broadcast videos of the launch as seen from the ground and from the rocket-mounted camera. Iranian officials said the rocket carried a rat, called Helmiz 1, as well as two turtles and a worm.

The expected duration of the capsule experiment was not disclosed.

Earlier versions of the Kavoshgan rocket were launched in February and November 2008.

At a Feb. 3 ceremony attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Aerospace Organization unveiled three new telecommunications satellites, called Toulou, Mesbah 2 and Navid. Also unveiled at the ceremony was the Simorgh engine, which according to the Press TV report is designed to place a 100-kilogram satellite into a 500-kilometer orbit.

Iran?s Omid telecommunications satellite was launched in February 2009 into an orbit that the U.S. Space Surveillance Network tracking stations said had an apogee of 382 kilometers and a perigee of 242 kilometers, with an orbital inclination of 55 degrees relative to the equator.

Reaza Taghipour Anvari, the head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, said in May that the Omid satellite had already reentered the Earth?s atmosphere. U.S. Space Surveillance Network data confirmed that the two-stage Safir-2 rocket placed an object into an orbit with an apogee of 382 kilometers and a perigee of 242 kilometers, inclined at 55 degrees relative to the equator.