Iranian Space Agency
(ISA)
Iranian Space Agency.png
Official logo of ISA
Agency overview
AbbreviationISA
Formed1 February 2004; 18 years ago (2004-02-01)
TypeSpace agency
HeadquartersTehran, Mahdasht, Shahrud, Qom
AdministratorHassan Salarieh
Primary spaceportImam Khomeini Spaceport
OwnerMinistry of Communications and Information Technology, Iran
Annual budget$4.6 million (FY 2017)[1]
Websitewww.isa.ir

The Iranian Space Agency (ISA, Persian: سازمان فضایی ایران Sāzmān-e Fazāi-ye Irān) is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009.[2] Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which was set up on 13 December 1958.[citation needed]

History

ISA was established on 28 February 2004, according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on 10 December 2003 by the Parliament of Iran. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by the President of Iran.

The council's main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues.

To follow and implement the strategies set by the council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The president of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time.[3]

In 2015, Iran's space program has been quietly suspended by President Rouhani following international pressures.[4] It has then been reinvigorated by President Raisi in 2021.[5]

Budget

See also: Politics of Iran § Budget

The proposed budget for the Iranian year 1393 (2014–2015) is 1,865,583 million rials (US$71,753,192). Other related organizations have received separate budget allocations. Iranian Space Research Center has received an additional 1,751,000 million rials (US$67,346,100) of budget for the year 1393.[6]

The budget for the year 2008 was mentioned to be US$3.9 billion (2008).[7] However it was not apparent whether the allocation was just for one year or a longer period.

Under president Hassan Rouhani, the proposed 2017-budget for the Iranian Space Agency fell to a low of US$4.6 million.[8]

Satellite launch vehicle (SLV)

Noor satellite launch
Noor satellite launch

Safir SLV

Main article: Safir (rocket)

Iran has developed an expendable satellite launch vehicle named Safir SLV. Measuring 22 m in height with a core diameter of 1.25 m, with two liquid propellant stages, a single thrust chambered first stage and a two-thrust chambered, step-throttled second stage, the SLV has a lift off mass exceeding 26 tons. The first stage consists of a lengthened up-rated Shahab-3C. According to the technical documentation presented in the annual meeting of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, it is a two-stage rocket with all liquid propellant engines. The first stage is capable of carrying the payload to the maximum altitude of 68 kilometers.[9]

The Safir-1B is the second generation of Safir SLV and can carry a satellite weighing 60 kg into an elliptical orbit of 300 to 450 km. The thrust of the Safir-1B rocket engine has been increased from 32 to 37 tons.

Simorgh SLV

Main article: Simorgh (rocket)

In 2010, a more powerful rocket named Simorgh (Phoenix) was built. Its mission is to carry heavier satellites into orbit.[10][11] The Simorgh rocket is 27 meters (89 ft) long, and has a mass of 77 tonnes (85 tons).[4] Its first stage is powered by four main engines, each generating up to 29,000 kilograms (64,000 lb) of thrust, plus a fifth which will be used for attitude control, which provides an additional 13,600 kilograms (30,000 lb). At liftoff, these engines will generate a total of 130,000 kilograms (290,000 lb) of thrust. Simorgh is capable of putting a 350-kilogram (770 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310 mi) low Earth orbit. In 2015, Israeli media reported the missile is capable of taking a crewed spacecraft or satellite into space.[12][13] The first flight of the Simorgh rocket occurred on 19 April 2016.[14]

Zuljanah SLV

Main article: Zuljanah (rocket)

On February 1, 2021, Iran said it successfully tested its latest satellite launch vehicle named "Zuljanah" which is capable of carrying satellites weighing up to 220 kg into a 500 km orbit. The SLV has three stages and is equipped with 2 solid fuel engine stages and a last liquid fuel stage, with the first and second stages having 75 tons of thrust each.[15]

Qoqnoos SLV

On 2 February 2013, the head of the Iranian Space Agency, Hamid Fazeli mentioned that the new satellite launch vehicle, Qoqnoos will be used after the Simorgh SLV for heavier payloads.[16][17]

Soroush 1 & 2 SLV

ISA has plans to build SLVs (named "Soroush" 1 & 2) in the future with a capacity to place 8 tons and 15 tons payloads in space (i.e 200 km orbit) respectively.[citation needed]

Sub-orbital launches

See also: Science and technology in Iran

On 25 February 2007, the Iranian state-run television announced that a rocket, created by the ministries of science and defense and which carried an unspecified cargo, was successfully launched. This could have been the maiden test flight of the three staged Safir SLV which ended in a failure. Later on it was noted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the failure was due to a technical problem in the last stage of the rocket.[18]

On 4 February 2008, Iran successfully launched a two-stage all solid-fuel sub-orbital sounding rocket Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), for a maiden sub-orbital test flight from Shahroud, its newly inaugurated domestic space launch complex.[19] The first stage of the rocket detached after 90 seconds and returned to Earth with the help of a parachute while the second stage reached a 200 km altitude before reentering the Earth's atmosphere after 300 seconds. The third section of the rocket, containing an atmospheric probe, climbed to 250 km while successfully transmitting scientific data on the atmosphere and the electromagnetic waves on its path back to Earth. It deployed a parachute after six minutes at a lower altitude.

The second Kavoshgar (Kavoshgar-2), which carried a space-lab and a restoration system, was launched in November 2008.[20]

Animals in space

See also: Monkeys in space

Orbital launches

See also: List of orbital launch systems

The Simorgh SLV in its servicing tower.
The Simorgh SLV in its servicing tower.

On 17 August 2008, Iran proceeded with the second test launch of a two-stage Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan city in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert. Reza Taghizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, told state television "The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier was launched today and, for the first time, we successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit".

On 2 February 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first domestically made satellite Omid (Persian: امید, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into Low Earth orbit by Iran's Safir rocket and therefore Iran became the 9th country to put a domestically built satellite into orbit.[30] The operation was made to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

In February 2011, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that there will be many launches of indigenously produced orbiters in 2011–2012 period.[31]

Iran plans to send one-ton satellites into an orbit of 1000 km and is setting up a new launch base for this purpose. Iran is also planning to launch satellites into orbits of up to 36,000 km.[32]

Launched satellites

See also: Communications in Iran

Omid, Iran's first satellite placed into orbit with own launcher.
Omid, Iran's first satellite placed into orbit with own launcher.

Iran is the 9th country to put a domestically-built satellite into orbit using its own launcher and the sixth to send animals in space.

Unlaunched satellites

Space centers

Map of locations of significant facilities of the Iranian Space Agency
Map of locations of significant facilities of the Iranian Space Agency

Main article: Imam Khomeini Spaceport

See also: List of space agencies and List of rocket launch sites

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  Download coordinates as: KML

The main launch site of the Iranian Space Agency is Shahrud, located at 36°25′0″N 55°01′0″E / 36.41667°N 55.01667°E / 36.41667; 55.01667 (Iranian Space Agency Emamshahr), where suborbital Shahab 3s LV have been launched.

Qom, located at 34°39′0″N 50°54′0″E / 34.65000°N 50.90000°E / 34.65000; 50.90000 (Iranian Space Agency Qom), is the other launch site.[88]

On occasion of the inaugural launch of Iran's first Safir-class sub-orbital rocket called Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), Iran unveiled on 4 February 2008, its first Satellite Launch Center 35°14′02″N 53°55′16″E / 35.234°N 53.921°E / 35.234; 53.921 (Iranian Space Agency Satellite Launch Center Semnan) in Semnan city. The facility includes an underground command and control center, a tracking station and a launchpad among other structures.

In December 2010, it was announced that due to geographical limitations of first space center in injecting satellite into orbit, studies have been carried out for setting up a second (satellite) launch pad.[citation needed] The new national spaceport of Iran, named after Imam Khomeini,[89] is being built in Semnan.[90]

This new port is to be used to launch all future Iranian space missions similar to American Kennedy Space Center or the Baikonur Cosmodrome.[91][92][93] In March 2011, Jane's Information Group reported on the basis of its satellite imagery analysis of Iranian space launch sites that Iran is aggressively building complex facilities with very rapid pace showing the nation's inclinations towards space readiness.[94]

In June 2013, Iran inaugurated its first space monitoring center located near Delijan in Markazi province, according to Iran's Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi the new center which was named Imam Ja'far Sadeq would mostly be used to track and detect space objects and satellites passing overhead using radar, electro-optic and radio systems.[95][96]

Human spaceflight program

Main article: Iranian crewed spacecraft

Iran expressed for the first time its intention to send a human to space during the summit of Soviet and Iranian Presidents at 21 June 1990. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached an agreement in principle with then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to make joint Soviet-Iranian crewed flights to Mir space station but this agreement was never realized after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Almost two decades later the Iranian News Agency claimed on 21 November 2005, that the Iranians have a human space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory. [97]

Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) head Reza Taghipour on 20 August 2008, revealed Iran intends to launch a human mission into space within a decade. This goal was described as the country's top priority for the next 10 years, in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021.[98][99]

In August 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran's first astronaut should be sent into space on board an Iranian spacecraft by no later than 2019.[100] According to Iranian human space program, the first sub-orbital spaceflight was take place by 2016 at an altitude below 200 kilometers as preparation for the eventual orbital spaceflight.[101] No such vehicle was developed.

On 17 February 2015, Iran unveiled a mock prototype of crewed spaceship that would be capable of taking astronauts into space.[102] According to Iran's Space Administrator, this program was put on hold in 2017 indefinitely.[103] In 2021, the spaceship was being prepared to send a human into space by 2026.[104]

Space station

According to unofficial Chinese internet sources, an Iranian participation in the future Chinese space station program has been discussed. This involvement might range from simply sending astronauts to the 60 ton class space station to contributing with development of a space laboratory module. International human spaceflight cooperation has officially been disclosed for the first time after the launch of the Chinese Shenzhou 7 spacecraft.[105]

Lunar program

Western media has quoted that Iran has plans to land an astronaut on the Moon by 2025. Currently Iran doesn't have a medium lift rocket, therefore as of now Iran sending a human to space is unlikely due to the lack of equipment.[101][106][107][108][109][110]

Controversy

See also: Nuclear program of Iran

The Iranian space program has been condemned by United States and Europe because of their concern over its military potential. Some analysts have compared the relatively fast Iranian advancement in space technology to Soviet Sputnik program with the prediction that this advancement will propel Iran's military capability in other areas as well. The military concerns over Iran's space program has been exacerbated over Safir rocket's advanced 2nd stage which Iran has kept secret by not releasing any technical information related to the second stage of the rocket, keeping outside observers guessing over the technicalities.[111][112][113][114][115][116][117] For Radio Free Europe, independent experts interviewed disagreed with assertion made by the U.S. and various European countries. SIPRI's Tytti Erästö stated space launch vehicle program can contribute to missile development yet it isn't a shortcut for development of long range missiles such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, historically the ICBMs were converted to SLVs and never was in history SLV converted to ICBM. IISS Michael Elleman stated that claims made by the U.S. such as Mike Pompeo are grossly exaggerating contribution of SLV program to ICBM program and that it is misguided to suggest that SLV program is cover for nuclear capable ICBMs as claims made are a political statement. ST Analytics Markus Schiller stated that there is no indication that Iran is trying to develop missiles with range longer than 2000 km as Iran has been working on improving accuracy of their existing short and medium range missiles.[118]

Sabotage by the U.S.

In 2019, the New York Times reported that the U.S. has been sabotaging Iran's space program for years and that it planned to widen its efforts.[119]

See also

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