On February 1, the head of Iran’s space agency said the 113-kilogramme Zafar, “Victory” in Farsi, would be launched into orbit 530 kilometres above Earth by a Simorgh rocket. The Zafar’s scheduled launch comes days before the 41th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and crucial parliamentary elections in Iran.
It also comes at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, after a January 3 US drone strike killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Its “primary mission” would be to collect imagery, Morteza Berari told AFP, adding that Iran needed such data to study earthquakes, deal with a range of natural disasters and develop its agriculture.
The Zafar was designed to remain operational for “more than 18 months”, he added.
The United States said the launch of the carrier rocket was a violation of a 2015 UN Security Council resolution endorsing the international accord on curbing Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran maintains it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons and says its aerospace activities are peaceful and comply with a UN Security Council resolution.
Iran adds that its internet services have faced cyber-attacks for the past two days, without elaborating on the source of the attack or the likely motives.