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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
First Iranian satellite launched
Kosmos 3M rocket launches, Esa
The Iranian satellite was joined by others from China and Europe
Iran launched its first satellite into space from Plesetsk in northern Russia on Thursday, joining a select club of countries.

A joint project between Iran and Russia, the Sina-1 satellite will be used to take pictures of Iran and to monitor natural disasters.

It blasted off aboard a Russian Kosmos 3M rocket early on Thursday morning.

The satellite was built for Iran by Polyot, a Russian company based in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Director General of Iran Electronic Industries Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh said Sina-1 was the result of years of research and 32 months of construction.

Research activities

Mr Mahmoudzadeh said the $15m research satellite would contain a telecommunications system and cameras that would be used for monitoring Iran's agriculture and natural resources.

It could also be deployed after disasters such as earthquakes.

He stressed, however, that the satellite represents only the first step in Iran's space programme.

"Considering that the satellite weights 170kg and is carrying a camera, it is an initial model as far as technical know-how and experience are concerned."

The launch had initially been scheduled for the end of September, but problems with the Iranian satellite forced a delay.

Iran's former defence minister, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, unveiled his country's space programme in 1998.

The launch makes Iran the 43rd country to possess its own satellites.

Sina-1 shared the ride with other satellites from China, Russia and Europe.

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