Iran to send satellite to space by March 20

TEHRAN, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) - Iran's Space Agency (ISA) announced that the first domestically-built satellite of Iran called "Omid" (Hope) would be sent to the space by March 20, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.

"If no problem hinders the process, the all-Iranian-made satellite will join the orbit by the end of the current Iranian year (ending on March 20)," ISA President Reza Taqipour said, adding that "Technical experts are trying to finalize the project according to the schedule."

In November, Iran successfully launched a space rocket "Kavosh 2" (Explorer 2), which after completing its mission, has returned to the earth.

The experiment was done within the framework of the country's "strategic space program" and "preparation for scientific and technological developments in the space" by the Iranian experts ofAir-Space Research Center, according to the website of Iran's state TV IRIB.

Iran launched a home-made satellite-carrier rocket named Safir (Messenger) in August last year, arousing Western governments' concerns over its purpose that Iran is developing long-range ballistic missile technology which can be used to launch nuclear weapons.

Safir was Iran's first domestically made satellite carrier, which was capable of putting lightweight satellites into low earth orbit.

The launch of Safir rocket is aimed to test remote sensing, satellite telemetry, and geographic information system technology as well as remote and ground station data processing, according to Iran's satellite channel Press TV.

Iranian officials have said Iran has plans to put a "series of satellites" into space by 2010 to aid natural disaster management programs and improve telecommunications.