After years of failures, Iran said Thursday that it had successfully launched three research devices from its satellite-carrying Simorgh rocket. The Iranian Space Agency launch was confirmed by the country's defense ministry, though it's not clear whether the satellites actually reached orbit, Deutsche Welle reports. The country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has its own space program, put a satellite into orbit last year. Defense ministry spokesman Ahmed Hosseini said Thursday that the rocket had launched the satellites at an altitude of 290 miles.
This was done as a preliminary launch, Hosseini said, per Reuters. "God willing, we will have an operational launch soon." President Ebrahim Raisi, the hardline leader elected in August, is apparently trying to step up Iran's space program: The country's Supreme Council of Space met last month for the first time in 11 years. The US has condemned previous Iranian launches and attempted launches, accusing Iran of using its space program as cover for missile development. The latest launch comes as negotiators are meeting in Vienna in an attempt to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, the AP reports. (In 2013, Iran said it had sent a monkey into space.)