Iran announced Sunday that the rocket they launched was not actually intended to reach space, despite morning reports on Iran's state-run television.
Apparently, the rocket launched was intended for scientific research only and would not orbit earth with other satellites, but rather return to earth after reaching an reach an altitude of 150 km.
The announcement contradicted earlier reports that Iran had successfully tested what it called a rocket that had reached space. The report was unclear, but appeared to refer to Iran's efforts to launch commercial satellites into orbit.
Iran's Science and Technology and Defense ministries built the craft, the state-run television quoted Mohsen Bahrami, the head of Iran's Space Research Center, as saying. Bahrami provided no other details beyond saying that Iran had successfully launched what he called a space rocket or space missile.
Iran in the past has announced that it wanted to be able to send its own satellites, including commercial ones, into orbit. But it has revealed little information about the project.
In 2005, Iran launched its first such satellite in a joint project with Russia.
Iran hopes to launch four more satellites by 2010, the government has said, to increase the number of land and mobile telephone lines to 80 million from 22 million. It also hopes to expand its satellite capabilities to let Internet users to rise to 35 million from 5.5 million in the next five years.
Science and Technology Minister Mohammad Soleimani said Sunday that Iran would speed up its space program, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Investment in space is very serious and requires time, but we are trying to speed this up," IRNA quoted Soleimani as saying.
Iran requires at least a 12 transponder satellite to enhance its communications and Internet systems. It signed a US$132 million (€100.5 million) deal with a Russian firm to build and launch another telecommunications satellite two years ago.
Also in 2005, Iran said its next step would be the launch of a satellite on an indigenous rocket. Iranian officials have said the country has been developing a Shahab-4 missile that will be used to launch a satellite into space.
Under a 20-year development plan, Iran has said it hopes to become a base for science and technology in the region.