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Iran Space Agency Provides Update on Status of Satellites at World Space Week Event

Launch of Iran’s Simorgh space launch vehicle from the Imam Khomeini Space Centre on July 27, 2017. Photograph courtesy of the Tasnim News Agency.

During a press conference marking World Space Week, the head of the Iran Space Agency (ISA), Mohsen Bahrami, provided an update to the status of the five indigenously built satellites awaiting launch in Iran. The satellites (Doosti, Amir Kabir, Nahid 1, Zafar, and Pars 1) are all “on the agenda and their launch contracts have been signed.”

Designed and built by the Sharif University, the Doosti satellite is fully complete and only awaits a launch date. Designed to engage in remote sensing activity, it is a micro-sized satellite that weighs 50kg. Built by the ISA’s Remote Sensing Laboratory, Doosti has long been assumed to be the first payload of the Simorgh space launch vehicle (SLV), and the successful test of the SLV in July may indicate Doosti will be ready for launch sooner than originally thought. The satellite’s launch has been delayed multiple times, and has been ready for launch for over a year.

The Amir Kabir and Nahid 1 satellites are in the final stages of their development, with both flight and engineering models near completion. The Amir Kabir will be a remote sensing satellite weighing 70-80kg, and have a predicted resolution of about 80 metres. The satellite will be used primarily to provide post-disaster relief information for incidents such as earthquakes. The Nahid-1 is a communications satellite originally scheduled for launch in 2012. The satellite will weigh approximately 55kg and operate in the Ku-band. Further information on who Iran has signed launch contracts with for each satellite has not yet become available.

Development and design of the Zafar satellite is still underway by Iran University of Science and Technology, and is projected to be completed by the end of the Persian calendar year – March 2018. The remote sensing satellite is intended to provide meteorological and water boundary mapping data. The entity that has signed its launch contract, which would not be executed for several more years, has not yet been made available.

The newest of the Iranian satellite initiatives, the Pars 1, is still in the conceptual phase, with design and construction elements just beginning under a consortium of Iranian universities across the country. The satellite will likely be used for remote sensing.

In addition to those satellites designed and built entirely on Iranian soil, Bahrami also addressed the status of the Mesbah satellite – a satellite built in cooperation with Italian company Carlo Gavazzi Space. Bahrami announced “[Iran and Italy] are in negotiations to take back the satellite and launch it,” and anticipates a resolution to the situation by the end of 2017. Scheduled for delivery to Iran in 2011, the satellite was seized by the Italian government as a result of international sanctions and so was never launched. Iran maintains the satellite should be returned to them so an Iranian launcher may send it into orbit.

By Natalie Fuchs, SpaceWatch Middle East’s Contributing Editor for Iranian space, science, and technology issues.

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