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Iran Claims To Have SSA Radar Capable Of Detecting Satellites In LEO

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

The deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, announced on 29 December 2018 that Iranian experts have successfully built radars capable of monitoring satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), according Iranian news reporting.

Addressing a conference at the Supreme National Defence University in Tehran, Brigadier General Salami said, “Today, we have achieved world’s modern technology by relying on domestic capabilities despite economic, scientific and technical boycott.”

As well as radars capable of monitoring satellites in LEO, Brigadier General Salami also said that Iran has also produced drones to capable of carrying out precise operations, and ballistic missiles able to destroy ships at sea all through Iranian reliance on domestic capabilities.

According to reports from 2016, Iran is using an optical telescope that became operational in October 2016 for space situational awareness (SSA), at the Iran Space Agency’s Mahdasht Space Centre located about 70 kilometres west of Tehran. The Mahdasht Space Centre was opened in 2013 by then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was at the time reportedly to consist of radars and radio and optical telescopes to track and catalogue satellites in orbit.

It is also understood that Iran is cooperating with other member states – led by China – of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO) in developing a network of ground-based optical SSA capabilities. Other APSCO member states believed to be involved in this project include Pakistan and Peru.

SSA, according to the U.S. not-for-profit organization The Space Foundation, “refers to the ability to view, understand and predict the physical location of natural and manmade objects in orbit around the Earth, with the objective of avoiding collisions.” SSA can also be used to accurately plot the orbit of a satellite in order to precisely use counterspace capabilities against it.

Additionally, according to the Fars News Agency, Iranian National Space Centre chief Manouchehr Manteqi said that Iran has the know-how and infrastructure to manufacture experimental satellites and explorer rockets.

“We have been able to attain the technology and necessary infrastructures to design and build experimental satellites and explorer rockets and launch (satellites) to the low earth orbit as well as space discoveries sciences,” Manteqi stated.

Manteqi also added that Iranian researchers were working on technology to design and build remote sensing and telecommunication satellites, noting that Iran aims to domesticate these projects as soon as possible through sustained international cooperation.

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