December 10, 2023

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Iran Launches Third Military Satellite to Orbit, Raising Tensions on the Ground

The Noor-3 satellite launched on board the Qased rocket on September 27, 2023.

Iran claims it has successfully placed a third imaging satellite in orbit, a move that will likely garner more criticism from the Western world over fears that the Islamic republic is bolstering its ballistic missile technology.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force launched the Noor-3 satellite on board its three-stage Qased rocket, local media reported. The launch took place on Wednesday from an undisclosed location. The U.S. Space Force tracked two objects that were consistent with a launch from Shahrud, Iran around 2:00 a.m. ET, according to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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“Noor 3 was launched to the current altitude of Noor 2, not its original altitude,” McDowell wrote on X. “The two sats are in roughly the same orbital plane, suggesting they may work together. In contrast, Noor 1 was already on its way to reentry when Noor 2 was launched.”

Following the launch of Noor-1, the U.S. claimed that Iran’s satellite defies a United Nations Security Council resolution “which calls on the regime not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons—including launches using ballistic missile technology,” according to a statement issued in 2020. Earlier in 2019, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran’s space agency.

With the launch of its third satellite to orbit, things are bound to escalate between the U.S. and Iran, especially as the Western world fears a growing alliance between Iran and Russia.

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