Iran launches mew research rocket into space

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Washington, Feb.4 (ANI): Iran successfully launched a research rocket into outer space carrying a mouse, two turtles and worms Wednesday, but failed to put anything into orbit, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

One U.S. official said the launch-demonstrated Iran's rocket or missile capabilities.

It's unclear whether Iran had intentions of putting either research tools or animals into orbit, but U.S. officials say the rocket and all its contents have since returned to Earth.

The military and intelligence communities are keeping a close watch over the Iranian space program because rocket technology tends to mirror that of ballistic missiles.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the launch as a "very big event". He added that it showed Iran could compete with the West in a battle of science and technology.

The launched rocket is called Kavoshgar-3, which means Explorer-3 in Farsi. According to U.S. officials, it performed similarly to the Kavoshgar-2 Iran tested in late 2008.

That rocket travelled just beyond the Earth's atmosphere into the lower ranges of outer space before returning to Earth on a parachute.

Experts say an object only needs to travel roughly 100 kilometres from Earth to reach outer space.

State Department spokesman P J Crowley told Fox that Iran has an aggressive missile program which "threatens countries in the region and potentially threatens Europe as well."

Crowley said the U.S. has worked hard to counter threats in the region with its own missile defences and it still struggles to understand Iran's nuclear aspirations. (ANI)

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