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Iran Announces Launch of Nahid-2 Communications Satellite for 2018

The Iran Space Agency Mahdasht Space Centre. Photo credits: Raheb Homavandi, Reuters.

The Iran Space Agency’s Aerospace Research Institute (ARI) has announced that it plans to launch its Nahid-2 communications satellite sometime in 2018.

According to Hassan Hadadpour, the head of the ARI, Nahid-2 will be the first Iranian satellite to feature a propulsion system powered by lithium-ion batteries, and is therefore expected to extend its operational lifetime beyond that of previous Iranian satellites.

Nahid-2 (Nahid is Farsi for Venus) is the successor to the Nahid-1 satellite that was expected to have been launched by March 2017, but as yet is still awaiting a launch date.

Nahid-1 was originally scheduled to be launched in 2012, and has folding solar panels. Nahid-1 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-1 will weigh about 55 kilograms and operate in the Ku-band.

Nahid-2 will weigh approximately 100 kilograms and will be 64 by 64 centimetres in size, and is supposed to be placed in geosynchronous orbit (approximately 36,000 kilometres altitude) in 2018. SpaceWatch Middle East reported in March 2017 that the Iran Space Agency has applied for five orbital slots in that orbit with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to Hadadpour, Nahid-1 and the Dousti satellite that was also supposed to be launched by March of this year, will now be launched in the coming months.

Dousti (Farsi for Friendship) is supposed to be a remote sensing satellite, and is being developed by the Remote Sensing Laboratory of the Iran Space Agency and Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, and is expected to weigh about 50kg.

What is causing the delay in launching satellites like Nahid-1 and Dousti is not clear. Iranian officials have a track record of making public announcements about the imminent launch of certain satellites by a particular date, only for that date to come and go without any launch.

Identifying the cause of these continuous delays and false starts is ripe with speculation in the absence of any other clarifying information from Tehran. The delay could be caused by problems with the satellites, difficulty finding a launcher – domestically or abroad – for the satellites, or an issue with funding due to a sclerotic Iranian economy.

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