Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, the country’s state media reported on Thursday.
Iranian state television said the rocket, Simorgh (Phoenix in Farsi) is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 250 kilograms (550 pounds). The report did not elaborate on the rocket’s payload.
The website YJC.ir, which is affiliated with Iranian state television, as well as the semi-official Fars news agency, also reported the launch on Thursday, saying it was successful.
Media reports did not say when the launch took place at the Imam Khomeini National Space Station in Semnan, some 220 kilometers (138 miles) east of Tehran.
The launch would also mark another step forward for the Islamic Republic’s young space program, but is likely to raise alarm among its adversaries, who fear the same technology could be used to produce long-range missiles.
The Simorgh is a two-stage rocket first revealed in 2010. It is larger than an earlier model known as the Safir, or “ambassador,” that Iran has used to launch satellites on previous occasions.
The launch comes as the United States has criticized Iran’s ballistic missile tests, which American officials argue violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran struck with world powers. Under the agreement, which does not expressly prohibit missile tests, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Iran has pursued a satellite launch program for years. The U.S. and its allies worry that the same technology could be used to develop long-range missiles.