Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Iran Remains On Cusp Of Entering Satellite Club

Alon Ben-David, Jane's: This is my second post on this in recent weeks. Is anyone listening?
The launch into space of Iran's first satellites - reconnaissance satellite Mesbah (Lantern) and research satellite Sina-1 - has been postponed from the scheduled date of 30 September due to a malfunction in the Sina-1 satellite.

The press chief of the Russian Space Troops, Colonel Alexei Kuznetsov, told the Itar-Tass news agency that the launch was postponed because of a delay in the manufacture of the Sina-1, which was assembled by Polyot of Omsk.

However, when the launch does go ahead in the coming weeks, it will make Iran the 43rd country to possess its own satellites and a member of the much more exclusive club of countries with spy satellites. READ MORE

Iran unveiled its military space programme in 1998, when the then defence minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani declared that the future design of Iran's intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), the Shahab 4, would be capable of launching payloads into orbit. Iranian television presented a mock-up of a future satellite launch vehicle, dubbed IRIS, which appeared to be a three-stage, constant-diameter launcher based on the Iranian Shahab 3 and North Korean No-dong IRBMs.

Since then, Iran is believed to have abandoned its Shahab 4 programme and instead presented and tested in August 2004 a new Shahab 3 design with a greater range capability.