Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on April 21 said that it had launched its first military satellite into the Earth's orbit, describing it a successful launch after months of failure. According to IRGC's official website, the satellite, which they named 'Noor' or 'light', successfully reached an orbit of 425 kilometres above the Earth's surface. The launch by Tehran came as tensions between the United States and Iran are at an all-time high after the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
According to IRGC, the satellite was launched in two stages from Iran's Central Desert but the paramilitary group did not elaborate on when exactly the launch took place. Iran has seen several failed launches in the past few years with the latest one being the Zafar 1 communications satellite, which failed to reach the orbit in February 2020. Last year was probably the worst year for Iran's satellite program as it saw two failed launches of Payam and Doosti satellites and also a rocket explosion at a launchpad in August.
US President Donald Trump had tweeted the pictures of the failed launch that was followed by a rocket explosion at the launchpad in August. The United States and its NATO allies worry that these launches will help Iran develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The United States has imposed tough sanctions on Iran after Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal that was signed during the Obama era.
The latest launch by Iran came as it is still battling to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 5,000 people in the Islamic republic. Iran is currently facing economic crunch to deal with the crisis as it had asked for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this month. The United States had offered to help Iran, which the country denied saying that revoke the 'vicious sanctions' instead.