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Iran launches new rocket on suborbital test flight: report

Iran recently test-launched a new rocket, according to the country's state television on Monday (Feb. 8).

During the broadcast, Ahmad Hosseini, a spokesperson for the Iranian Defense Ministry's space division, said that the test was "the first launch of the Zoljanah hybrid satellite carrier [rocket] for suborbital testing," according to the international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Iran is an autocratic regime that generally releases little information about its space activities.

Related: Iran in space: rockets, satellites & monkeys (photos)

Iranian government footage shows the country's new Zoljanah's first suborbital test launch. (Image credit: Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran)

Zoljanah is a three-stage rocket with two solid propulsion stages and one liquid one, and can be launched from a mobile platform, which provides "special capabilities," Hosseini said, according to the report. He said that the rocket can send a satellite of up to 1,100 lbs. (220 kilograms) to a 310-mile (500-kilometer) orbit. For comparison, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of roughly at 250 miles (400 km).

State television showed the rocket "being launched in a desert area," according to the AFP, but did not disclose the location or time of the test. The launch was reportedly done in Semnan province, which is where the government's space center is located, the report added.

The test was performed almost one year after Iran reportedly sent its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, aboard a two-stage Qassad rocket that lifted off from the Markazi Desert in Central Iran. U.S. tracking data available at that time confirmed that the spacecraft safely reached orbit.

Iran had made another attempt to send a satellite aloft in February 2020, but the Zafar 1 spacecraft didn't pick up enough speed to make it safely into Earth orbit, according to reports at that time. Satellite imagery has provided evidence of other past Iranian rocket launches that didn't make it.

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