TEHRAN – The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) successfully launched a third military satellite into orbit on Wednesday, Minister of Communications Issa Zarepour said.
The Noor 3 imaging satellite orbits at an altitude of 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the earth’s surface and was launched by the three-stage Qased, or messenger carrier, which launched its predecessor Noor 2 in 2022.
“I congratulate all Iranians, those active in the country’s space industry, and the IRGC’s space experts for this success. God willing, this year will be a fruitful year for the country’s space industry,” Zarepour said on his X account.
The IRGC said the satellite traveled at a speed of 7.6 kilometers per second allowing it to be placed into orbit some 500 seconds after its launch.
The first version of the Noor was successfully launched in April 2020 into an orbit 425km (265 miles) above the Earth. It became the first military reconnaissance satellite launched by Iran.
The second version reached a low orbit of 500km (310 miles) in early 2022 using the mixed-fuel carrier.
Iranian officials have promised to carry on with the expanding satellite program and are expected to launch several more satellites into different orbits in the foreseeable future.
In August 2022, an Iranian-owned and Russian-built satellite – said to be capable of taking high-resolution images – was successfully launched from a base in Kazakhstan.
Last month, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Muhammad Reza Ashtiani announced that the country would launch at least two domestically-made satellites into orbit this year.
“We are involved in the development and launch of satellites. Under our plan, we will have 2 to 3 satellite launches this year, something we hope to be successful,” Ashtiani said.
Despite sanctions imposed by Western countries in recent years, Iran has managed to take giant strides in the civilian space program. It is among the world’s top 10 countries capable of developing and launching satellites.
IRGC chief Major General Hussein Salami said Wednesday his force will use the newly-launched Noor-3 imaging satellite for military intelligence purposes.
“We use the collection of what we receive and gather from the Earth to meet the IRGC’s intelligence demands,” he told a gathering of IRGC officers and veterans in Tehran.
Elaborating on its specifications,
Salami said the satellite is seven kilograms heavier than its previous version Noor-2 and features imaging equipment that are more precise and produce pictures with better quality.
Commander of IRGC’s Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh said after the launch that the force plans two more satellite launches until the end of the current Iranian calendar year which will be late March.
Hajizadeh said the launches will enable Iran to have a “constellation of satellites” in the space in the near future.