Iran plans to launch its first satellite with French help "in the near future," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said Saturday.
IRNA quoted Mohammed Gharazi, minister of post and telegraphs, as saying the communications satellite will be launched by France's Arianespace, the commercial arm of the European Space Agency.
Iran has access to communications satellites now in orbit, but they are not Iranian-designed.
Gharazi said the $600 million Zohreh (Venus) satellite was designed by Iranian experts and will be used to improve Iran's nationwide television network. According to the report, the satellite will be able to handle 12,000 telephone channels.