Iran launches research rocket

TEHRAN: Iran successfully launched a rocket today carrying a mouse, turtle and worms

into space for research purposes, the country’s defence minister said.

The launch of the

Kavoshgar-3, which means Explorer-3 in Farsi, is

part of an ambitious Iranian space programme that has worried Western powers who fear the same technology used to launch satellites and research capsules could also deliver warheads.

Iranian state television broadcast images today of officials putting a mouse, two turtles and about a dozen creatures that looked like worms inside a capsule in the rocket before it blast off.

Defence Minister Gen

Ahmad Vahidi, who announced the launch, did not elaborate on the rocket or its research purposes, and it was not immediately clear whether the rocket was being put into orbit or not.

Over the past two years Iran has launched a pair of rockets into space carrying scientific equipment to collect information on wind, temperature and other data.

Iran also unveiled today a new domestically-built light booster rocket, named Simorgh, as well as three home-built satellites as

the nation marked its National Space Day.

Officials said the Simorgh rocket can carry a satellite weighing 100 kg up to 500 km above the Earth.

Iran launched its first domestically made satellite, Omid, a year ago.