Monday, February 4, 2008

Iran launches first space centre

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran on Monday opened a new space centre that will launch its first home-built research satellite, saying the inauguration marked another step forward in its battle against Western dominance. A rocket was fired into space at the remote desert centre in northern Iran to mark the event, the second time the Islamic republic has attempted to fire a rocket into space. "We witness today that Iran has taken its first step in space very firmly, precisely and with awareness," declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he gave the order for the launch. "The evil and dominant system's most important instrument is humiliating people and nations by making them think that they are incapable," he said in a reference to the West. The space centre includes an underground control station and launch pad which will be used to fire an Iranian satellite named Omid (Hope) into space in May or June, officials said. "Building and firing a satellite is a major and valuable achievement," said Ahmadinejad, who gave the order from the headquarters of Iran's space organisation in Tehran. The opening of the space centre comes as Iran has been trumpeting its progress in its nuclear programme, which the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons. The emphasis on Iran's development of its own domestic space technology is highly reminiscent of its insistence on developing its nuclear capabilities, which has led it into a four-year standoff with the West.
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