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Iran launches home-produced satellite rocket

The Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket was carrying

TEHRAN (AFP): Iran claimed it had successfully launched a home-produced satellite rocket amid Western concerns it is using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons.

The Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket was carrying an "experimental capsule", state-owned Al-Alam television reported on Wednesday.

State television's website said it was carrying "live animals" -- a rat, turtles and worms.

"The capsule has the ability to send back empirical data," the website said.

State television showed footage of the rocket being fired from a desert launch pad leaving behind a thick plume of smoke.

A few minutes later the grainy images showed the capsule detaching from the rocket and spinning in orbit.

State television also carried pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiling another home-built satellite rocket dubbed the Simorgh.

The milk-bottle shaped rocket, emblazoned in blue with the words "Satellite Carrier Simorgh," is equipped to carry a 100-kilogramme satellite 310 miles into orbit, the television report said.

The events are part of celebrations marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic revolution.

Iran's first home-built satellite, the Omid (Hope), was launched in February last year to coincide with the 30th anniversary.

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