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Iran says it launched ‘space tug’ capable of shifting satellites between orbits

Iran says it has launched a test tug into suborbital space.

Iranian state media reported on Tuesday that the government had launched a space tug capable of moving satellites between orbits.

State television said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched by the Ministry of Defense on Monday.

Hassan Salarieh, head of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state television that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in the near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. The space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another.

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Iran has long pursued a space program it says is for peaceful purposes. The country has both a civilian and military space program, which the US says could be used to develop a ballistic missile program.

In June, Tehran launched a solid-fuel rocket into space, and in August, a Russian rocket successfully launched Iran’s Khayyam satellite into orbit. It is named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scholar who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

However, Iran has seen a number of accidents and failed satellite launches in recent years

In April 2020, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards revealed their own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Garda operates its own military infrastructure in parallel with the regular Iranian armed forces.

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