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Iran to launch two homemade satellites by March 2017

An Iranian Simorgh launch vehicle on display. Image courtesy of Ruptly.
An Iranian Simorgh launch vehicle on display. Image courtesy of Ruptly.

The head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), Mohsen Bahrami, announced on 12 July 2016 that Iran will launch at least two indigenously built satellites by March 2017.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr. Bahrami said, “At-Sat [also known as AUTSAT-1], Nahid 1, and Dousti are the satellites their design and manufacturing have been completed and by March 2017, we will have launched either of Nahid or At-Sat as a communication satellite, and Dousti as an monitoring satellite.”

As previously reported in SpaceWatch Middle East, these satellites have been under development for sometime now, but according to Dr. Bahrami the satellites have been completed and are ready for launch

The Nahid (Farsi for ‘Venus’) communications satellite was originally scheduled to be launched in 2012, and has folding solar panels. Nahid is designed and jointly manufactured by the Elm-O-Sanat University Metro Station in Tehran and the Iranian Space Agency’s Aerospace Research Institute. Nahid will weigh about 55 kilograms and operate in the Ku-band.

The Amir Kabir-1, also known as AUTSAT-1, will be a remote sensing satellite that weighs 70-80kg with a resolution of about 80 metres, and is designed to provide post-disaster surveillance (such as earthquakes) and agricultural applications. Amir Kabir-1 is designed by the Amir-Kabir University of Technology, and is to be manufactured by the university and by a company called Iran Aerospace Industries Organisation.

Lastly, the Doosti (Farsi for ‘Friendship’) satellite, also a remote sensing satellite, is being developed by the Remote Sensing Laboratory of the Iranian Space Agency and Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, and is expected to weigh about 50kg.

Dr. Bahrami also announced that work had begun on the Pars remote-sensing satellite, but made no mention of when that system might be launched. Dr. Bahrami did say, however, that he expected a launch contract for the Nahid satellite to be signed as early as next week. This suggests that Nahid will be launched on either a Safir or Simorgh launch vehicle from one of three launch sites in Iran.

“The launch of these domestic satellites is in line with the ‘resistance economy’ policies and even a contract will be signed next week to use an Iranian launcher for deploying the Nahid 1 satellite into orbit,” said Dr. Bahrami to gathered journalists.

The press conference ended with Dr. Bahrami telling reporters that an Iranian delegation had been invited to Italy to discuss the possibility of the Italian government releasing the Mesbah satellite built by Carlo Gavazzi Space S.p.A., but then held by Italian authorities because of international sanctions imposed against Iran because of its nuclear programme. Dr. Bahrami suggested that Iran may now consider dropping the Mesbah satellite issue with Italy, arguing that recovering Mesbah may no longer be cost-efficient.

“Iranian researchers need to evaluate considerations to decide over the launch of Mesbah satellite into the orbit,” said Dr. Bahrami.

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