April 10, 2006

Iran sees second satellite in orbit in two years

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hopes to put a second satellite
into orbit in two years, a senior telecommunications official
told the official IRNA news agency on Monday.

Iran launched its Sina-1 satellite from a Russian rocket in
October and said it would help the Islamic Republic's
scientists better understand natural disasters such as floods
and earthquakes.

"We reached an agreement with Iran's Aerospace Organization
to produce Iran's second satellite called Pars (Sina-2)," said
Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh, director of Sa Iran, a telecommunications
firm affiliated to the Defense Ministry.

"The contract will be signed next month and it will
probably be launched after two years," he added.

Sa Iran declined to give Reuters a description of the Pars
satellite and it was unclear what it was designed for.

Sina-1's launch sparked controversy in some Western media
that suspected it could be used for spying. But technical
experts said its camera probably lacked sufficient power to be
effective for espionage.

Most international interest in Iran's satellite program
focuses on the Mesbah (lantern) satellite which Iran intends to
launch on a domestically made rocket.

Military analysts are closely watching Iran's domestic
launch plans as satellite-launch technology is traditionally
intimately linked to developments in ballistic weapons.