Iran plans to launch a satellite into space soon using an Iranian-made rocket, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.
Iran has in the past launched satellites using rockets built by other nations, but this was the first announcement of such a launch with an all-Iranian made rocket.
Ahmadinejad said the rocket will have 16 engines and will take a satellite some 430 miles into space, according to a state television report Thursday.
The satellite will likely be a commercial one for communication or meteorological research purposes. Iran has never announced plans to launch military satellites.
But the country has long pursued the goal of developing a space program, generating unease among world leaders already concerned about its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The same technology used to put satellites into space can be used to deliver warheads, which will likely further raise concerns over Tehran’s advances in rocketry, especially in Israel.
Earlier this month, Tehran announced that a joint research satellite built by Iran, China and Thailand, was sent into orbit by a Chinese-made rocket. At the time, Iranian officials said the three countries suffer from natural disasters and that the satellite would transmit photos to help deal with such crises.
Tehran sent its first commercial satellite into space on a Russian rocket in 2005. Last month, Iran tested a rocket which it hopes will one day carry an all-Iranian research satellite.
The remarks by the Iranian president came during his meeting with a group of Iranian expatriates in New York, where Ahmadinejad is attending the U.N. General Assembly.
There were no details about what type of satellite the rocket would carry, and Ahmadinejad gave no time frame for the plan.