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Iran admits it is preparing for rocket launch tests

Iran acknowledges it is planning two tests for its new solid-fueled rocket after satellite photos showed preparations at a desert launch pad previously used in the program, even as tensions remain high over Tehran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program.

The Islamic Republic will launch its satellite-carrying Zuljanah rocket twice more after conducting a previous launch, the state-run IRNA news agency quotes Defense Ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini as saying. He does not elaborate on a timeframe for the tests, nor say when the previous launch occurred.

Each of the Zuljanah’s three stages will be evaluated during the tests, Hosseini says.

Satellite images taken yesterday by Maxar Technologies showed preparations at a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower.