TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has test launched the latest version of a rocket capable of sending satellites and carrying living creatures into space, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.
In the latest step of a space and missile programme which has alarmed Washington, the Kavoshgar-4 rocket was launched on Tuesday carrying a capsule designed to contain living organisms, a test run for future launches carrying monkeys, ahead of an eventual manned space mission.
The launch aimed to test the performance of the engine, the launch pad, the capsule and electronic systems, including "data and images sent from a 120 km (75 mile) orbit," IRNA said.
The announcement is the latest in a string of achievements which Iran believes demonstrates its progress in civil and defense fields in the face of sanctions and the threat of possible military action against its nuclear programme.
When Iran tested the previous version of the rocket, the Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3), in February 2010, Washington called it a "provocative act."
Western powers fear Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs and that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used to launch warheads. Iran says its nuclear programme is solely to generate electricity.
(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Jon Hemming)