Iranian Space Agency

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Iranian Space Agency
Iranian Space Agency logo.png
Official logo of ISA
Abbreviation ISA
Formation 1 February 2004; 14 years ago (2004-02-01)
Headquarters Tehran, Mahdasht, Shahrud, Qom
Morteza Barari
Imam Khomeini Spaceport
Parent organisation
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Iran
$4.6 million (FY 2017)[1]

The Iranian Space Agency (ISA, Persian: سازمان فضایی ایران sâzmân-e Fazâyi-e Irân) is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009.[2] Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was set up in 1958.[2]


ISA was established on 1 February 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on 10 December 2003 by the Parliament of Iran. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by Iran’s President.

The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues.

To follow and implement the strategies set by the Council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time.[3]

Since 2015 Iran's space program has been quietly suspended by President Rouhani following international pressures.[4]


The proposed budget for the Iranian year 1393 (2014–2015) is 1,865,583 million rials ($71,753,192). Other related organizations have received separate budget allocations. Iranian Space Research Center has received an additional 1,751,000 million rials ($67,346,100) of budget for the year 1393.[5]

The budget for the year 2008 was mentioned to be $3.9 billion (2008).[6] However it was not apparent whether the allocation was just for one year or a longer period.

Under president Hassan Rouhani, the proposed 2017-budget for the Iranian Space Agency fell to a dismally low of $4.6 million.[7]

Satellite launch vehicle (SLV)

Safir SLV

Iran has developed an expendable satellite launch vehicle named Safir SLV. Measuring 22 m in height with a core diameter of 1.25 m, with two liquid propellant stages, a single thrust chambered first stage and a two-thrust chambered, step-throttled second stage, the SLV has a lift off mass exceeding 26 tons. The first stage consists of a lengthened up-rated Shahab-3C. According to the technical documentation presented in the annual meeting of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs it is a two-stage rocket with all liquid propellant engines. The first stage is capable of carrying the payload to the maximum altitude of 68 kilometers.[8]


The Safir-1B is the second generation of Safir SLV and can carry a satellite weighing 60 kilograms into an elliptical orbit of 300 to 450 kilometers. The thrust of the Safir-1B rocket engine has been increased from 32 to 37 tons.

Simorgh SLV

In 2010 a more powerful rocket named Simorgh (Phoenix) was built. Its mission is to carry heavier satellites into orbit.[9][10] The Simorgh rocket is 27 meters (89 ft) long, and has a mass of 77 tonnes (85 tons).[4] Its first stage is powered by four main engines, each generating up to 29,000 kilograms (64,000 lb) of thrust, plus a fifth which will be used for attitude control, which provides an additional 13,600 kilograms (30,000 lb). At liftoff, these engines will generate a total of 130,000 kilograms (290,000 lb) of thrust. Simorgh is capable of putting a 350-kilogram (770 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310 mi) low Earth orbit. In 2015, Israeli media reported the missile is capable of taking a manned spacecraft or satellite into space.[11][12] The first flight of the Simorgh rocket occurred on 19 April 2016.[13]

Qoqnoos SLV

On 2 February 2013, The head of the Iranian space agency, Fazeli mentioned that the new satellite launch vehicle, Qoqnoos will be used after the Simorgh SLV for heavier payloads.[14][15]

Sub-orbital launches

On 25 February 2007, the Iranian state-run television announced that a rocket, created by the ministries of science and defense and which carried an unspecified cargo, was successfully launched.This could have been the maiden test flight of the three staged Safir SLV which ended in a failure. Later on it was noted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the failure was due to a technical problem in the last stage of the rocket.[16] On 4 February 2008, Iran successfully launched a two-stage all solid-fuel sub-orbital sounding rocket Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), for a maiden sub-orbital test flight from Shahroud, its newly inaugurated domestic space launch complex.[17][18] The first stage of the rocket detached after 90 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute while the second stage reached a 200 km altitude before reentering the Earth's atmosphere after 300 seconds. The third section of the rocket, containing an atmospheric probe, climbed to 250 km while successfully transmitting scientific data on the atmosphere and the electromagnetic waves on its path back to Earth. It deployed a parachute after six minutes at a lower altitude. The second kavoshgar (Kavoshgar-2), which carried a space-lab and a restoration system, was launched in November 2008.[19]

Animals in space

  • On 3 February 2010, ISA launched a Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) rocket with one rodent, two turtles, and several worms into sub-orbital space and returned them to Earth alive. The rocket was enabled to transfer electronic data and live footage back to Earth. The Iranian Aerospace Organization (IAO) showed live video transmission of mini-environmental lab to enable further studies on the biological capsule.[20] This was the first biological payload launched by Iran.[21] Iran is the sixth country to send animals in space.
  • On 15 March 2011, the ISA launched the Kavoshgar-4 (Explorer-4) rocket carrying a test capsule designed to carry a monkey but without living creatures on board.
  • Kavoshgar-5 (Explorer-5) carrying a live monkey was launched for a 20-minute sub-orbital flight in September 2011, however the mission failed. On 3 October, Iran indefinitely postponed further plans while scientists reviewed readiness for future missions.[22] In May 2012, Iran announced that it would send more living creatures into the space by the summer.[23] Following the last failed attempt, ISA was seeking to successfully send a monkey into space by 2013.[24] ISA head Hamid Fazeli told the Iranian news agency Mehr that the designated monkeys are currently in quarantine.[25]
  • On 29 January 2013, Iranian state media announced that a monkey was sent into space and returned safely aboard the Pishgam capsule, after having reached a height of 120 kilometers.[26] This was the first time that Iran has sent a primate into space, 54 years after the first monkeys Able and Baker returned safely. No details on the timing or location of the launch were given.[27]
  • On 14 December 2013, Iran launched a second monkey, named Fargam, on a suborbital flight.[28] The monkey is reported to have been retrieved successfully and safe, after the short 15 minute flight.

Orbital launches

On 17 August 2008, Iran proceeded with the second test launch of a two-stage Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert. Reza Taghizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, told state television "The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier was launched today and, for the first time, we successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit". On 2 February 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first domestically made satellite Omid (Persian: امید‎, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into LEO by a version of Iran's Safir rocket, the Safir-2 and therefore Iran became the 9th country to put a domestically built satellite into orbit.[29] The operation was made to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. In February 2011, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that there will be many launches of indigenously produced orbiters in 2011–2012 period.[30]

Iran plans to send one-ton satellites into an orbit of 1,000 kilometers and is setting up a new launch base for this purpose. Iran is also planning to launch satellites into orbits of up to 36,000 kilometers in 2016.[31][32][33]

Launched satellites

  • On 28 October 2005, a Kosmos-3 booster rocket launched Sinah-1. The joint Iranian Russian Sinah-1 project cost 15 million U.S. dollars, and the launch made Iran the 43rd country to possess its own satellite.[34]
  • Environment 1, a joint research satellite of Iran, China and Thailand was launched on a Chinese Long March 2C carrier rocket on 6 September 2008, aimed at boosting cooperation on natural disasters such as flooding, drought, typhoon, landslide and earthquake. The twin Earth observation satellites of eight planned were launched from Taiyuan SLC. The satellites will work as a constellation with six other satellites yet to be launched. Its observational footprint is 720 km. With a lifespan of more than three years, they have state-of-the-art imaging systems and infrared cameras and provide a global scan every two days. Iran had shouldered $6.5 million out of the $44 million of the total project cost.[35][36]
  • Omid, Iran's second satellite, was placed in orbit in February 2009, and was described as a data-processing satellite for research and telecommunications.[29][37]
  • Rasad-1 is an imaging satellite that has been built and launched successfully by Iran. The satellite was sent into the 260 kilometres orbit by a Safir rocket launcher on 15 June 2011.[38][39][40] It beams back to earth pictures with 150-meter resolution. It decayed from orbit three weeks after launch, on 6 July 2011.[41][42]
  • Navid-e Elm-o Sanat (also known as 'Ya Mahdi') which is an "experimental satellite" built by students for testing camera and telecommunications equipment was revealed to the public on 3 February 2010. It has store-dump capability and a resolution of 400 meters. On 3 February 2012 Iranian press reported that Iran has successfully launched its domestically-built Navid-e Elm-o Sanat satellite into orbit.[43] The satellite remained in orbit for two months, before reentering the atmosphere on 1 April 2012.[44]
  • Fajr, is an imaging satellite which also carries an experimental locally made GPS system built by Iran Electronics Industries. The satellite had a life span of 1.5 years and an imaging resolution of 500–1000 meters. It is the first Iranian satellite to use "Cold Gas Thruster" and has solar pannels. Originally, it was to be launched in 2012. As were alleged, non-announced by Iran one ?failed launches of Fajr satellites occurred on May 23 in 2012.[45] Finally, Fajar was successfully launched and placed into orbit on 2 February 2015.[46][47] On 26 February 2015 Fajr reentered earth's atmosphere after 23.8 days in orbit.[48]
  • Nahid (1), satellite with folding solar panels was originally scheduled for launch in 2012.[49][50]

Unlaunched satellites

  • Toloo, is the first of a new generation of reconnaissance satellites being built by Iran Electronics Industries with SIGINT capabilities. Its launch date was originally set for 2012.[39][51][52][53] The launcher is expected to be a Simorgh missile. The new launch date has been set for 2015.[54]
  • Nasir 1, Iran's indigenously designed satellite navigation system (SAT NAV) has been manufactured to find the precise locations of satellites moving in orbit.[55][56]
  • Sharif satellite was originally scheduled for launch in 2012 is an observation satellite with an imaging resolution of better than 12.5 meters. The satellite is manufactured by Sharif University of Technology.[57]
  • Zafar-1, is an imaging satellite to be launched in 2012 and will have a resolution better than 80 meters.[58][59][60][61] The satellite will be sent into a geostationary orbit.[62] The launcher is expected to be a Simorgh missile.[54]
  • Mesbah (meaning 'Lantern') was to be built by Iran in collaboration with Italy's Carlo Gavazzi Space S.p.A. Mesbah was a low earth orbit telecommunication satellite. The satellite was never launched as both Russia and Italy refused to cooperate with Iran anymore on space projects.[63] The original Mesbah project was later on replaced by indigenous Mesbah-2 which is to be built and launched by Iran alone.[64] It was reported in April 2011 that the $10 million satellite built in Italy, has not been delivered to Iran. Italy has refused to hand over the satellite to Iran under the pretext of international sanctions on Iran. Iran maintains that the satellite be handed over for its launch by an Iranian satellite carrier.[65][66][67]
  • Mesbah-2 is a limited application communication satellite which was conceived as a locally designed satellite after the original Mesbah project failed to materialize due to international pressures on Iran. It will have a life span of 3 years with store dump capability and its own navigation system. It is scheduled for launch in 2012.[39][51][52][64]
  • Qaem, is a geosynchronous communication satellite that is being developed by Iran and is scheduled to be launched on an Iranian carrier by 2016. The satellite is going to have a life expectancy of 15 years, broadcasting TV and Radio channels.[68][69]
  • Pars Sepehr, is a remote sensing satellite being built and to be launched from Iran. Its launch date is not yet confirmed.[68][69]
  • Pars-2, is a remote sensing satellite being built and to be launched from Iran. Its launch schedule has not yet been announced.[68][69]
  • AUT-SAT, is a microsatellite being developed by students of Amirkabir University of Technology. It is designed as a remote sensing satellite with store-dump capability. It is to be launched in 2012.[58][60] Amir Kabir satellite, weighing 80 kilograms, will reportedly be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit of 660 km in radius, and will remain in space between three and five years.[70] The launcher is expected to be a Simorgh missile.[54]
  • ZS4 is an Iranian satellite to be launched by an Iranian launcher. Its mission role and launch date have not been revealed.[71][72][73]
  • Sina-2 is a small satellite that will replace the mission role of Sina-1.[71][72]
  • SM2S is an Iranian satellite to be launched by an Iranian launcher. Its mission role and launch date have not been revealed.[71][74]
  • Iran is also to implement 10 satellite projects with Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) members. The organization has defined 10 projects on designing, building and launching light satellites, middle class satellites weighing 500–600 kg, research satellites, remote-sensing and telecommunications satellites.[75][76]
  • Besharat satellite is being built by Iran with collaboration of some OIC members which have volunteered in the project. It is to be launched by Iran. The countries which are jointly working with Iran on the project are Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia and some Arab countries. Its launch date is not yet confirmed.[77][78][79]
  • Saar (Starling) will be produced by Iran's Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology.[80] No further details have been given.
  • Zohreh, is a geosynchronous communication satellite which was originally proposed before the Revolution in the 1970s as part of a joint Indian-Iranian project of four Iranian satellites to be launched by the then upcoming NASA space shuttles. Iran had also negotiated with France to build and launch the satellites but the project never materialized. In 2005, Iran negotiated with Russia to build and launch the first Zohreh satellite under an agreement worth $132 million with the satellite launch date stipulated as 2007-08. The new agreement had followed the earlier failed negotiations with Russia in 2003 when Russia cancelled the project under US pressures. The satellite was to be of Express-1000 type and capable of relaying telephone, fax, data and television signals with a life span of 15 years.[36][81][82] In September 2010, Iran announced that it will build and launch the satellite locally as the foreign contractors had refused to complete the project. New launch date for the satellite was announced as 2014.[83][84] Russia had announced in 2009 that it is not going to cooperate with Iran on any space projects but reversed course again following the lifting of international sanctions against Iran in 2015.[85][86][87] Iran has also solicited NASA's cooperation in future space projects.[88]

Space centers

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

The main launch site of the Iranian Space Agency is Emamshahr, located at 36°25′0″N 55°01′0″E / 36.41667°N 55.01667°E / 36.41667; 55.01667 (Iranian Space Agency Emamshahr), where suborbital Shahab 3s LV have been launched. Qom, located at 34°39′0″N 50°54′0″E / 34.65000°N 50.90000°E / 34.65000; 50.90000 (Iranian Space Agency Qom), is the other launch site.[89]

On occasion of the inaugural launch of Iran's first Safir-class sub-orbital rocket called Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), Iran unveiled on 4 February 2008, its first Satellite Launch Center 35°14′02″N 53°55′16″E / 35.234°N 53.921°E / 35.234; 53.921 (Iranian Space Agency Satellite Launch Center Semnan) in Semnan. The facility includes an underground command and control center, a tracking station and a launchpad among other structures.

In December 2010 it was announced that due to geographical limitations of first space center in injecting satellite into orbit, studies have been carried out for setting up a second (satellite) launch pad.[90] The new national spaceport of Iran, named after Imam Khomeini,[91] is being built in Semnan.[92] This new port is to be used to launch all future Iranian space missions similar to American Kennedy Space Center or the Baikonur Cosmodrome.[93][94][95] In March 2011, Jane's Information Group reported on the basis of its satellite imagery analysis of Iranian space launch sites that Iran is aggressively building complex facilities with very rapid pace showing the nation's inclinations towards space readiness.[96]

In June 2013 Iran inaugurated its first space monitoring center located near Delijan in Markazi province, according to Iran's Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi the new center which was named Imam Ja'far Sadeq would mostly be used to track and detect space objects and satellites passing overhead using radar, electro-optic and radio systems.[97][98][99]

Space test laboratory

In 2011 Iran launched a number of laboratories for testing “space structures and systems” in line with its progressing space program. The laboratory includes ten labs to “reinforce infrastructures of Iran's space industry” and help improve the abilities of human resources.[100][clarification needed]

Manned space program

Iran expressed for the first time its intention to send a human to space during the summit of Soviet and Iranian Presidents at 21 June 1990. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached an agreement in principle with then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to Mir space station but this agreement was never realized after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Almost two decades later the Iranian News Agency claimed on 21 November 2005, that the Iranians have a manned space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory. [101] Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) head Reza Taghipour on 20 August 2008, revealed Iran intends to launch a manned mission into space within a decade. This goal was described as the country's top priority for the next 10 years, in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021.[102][103]

In August 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran's first astronaut should be sent into space on board an Iranian spacecraft by no later than 2019.[104][105] Later on in December 2010, Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Reza Taghipour stated that “The initial steps for the plan have been taken, and the study phase on the definition of subsystems, sub-projects, costs, and what projects need to be developed toward that end, has been conducted, which needs to be submitted to the Supreme Council on Space”.[90] According to Iranian manned space program, the first sub-orbital spaceflight was take place by 2016 at an altitude below 200 kilometers as preparation for the eventual orbital spaceflight.[106] No such vehicle was developed.

On 17 February 2015, Iran unveiled a mock prototype of Iranian manned spaceship that would capable of taking astronauts into space.[107] According to Iran's Space Administrator, this program was put on hold in 2017 indefinitely.[108]

Space station

According to unofficial Chinese internet sources, an Iranian participation in the future Chinese space station program has been discussed. This involvement might range from simply sending astronauts to the 60 tons class space station to contributing with development of a space laboratory module. International manned space cooperation has officially been disclosed for the first time after the launch of the Chinese Shenzhou 7 spacecraft.[109]

Lunar program

Western media has quoted that Iran has plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2025. Currently Iran doesn't have even a medium lift rocket and Iran sending a human even to space is highly unlikely. [106][110][111][112][113][114]


The Iranian space program has been condemned by United States and Europe because of their concern over its military potential. Some analysts have compared the relatively fast Iranian advancement in space technology to Russia's Sputnik program with the prediction that this advancement will propel Iran's military capability in other areas as well. The recent launches of the Iranian space program has put its rocket technology ahead of North Korea's, especially in multi-stage technologies necessary for orbital launch. The military concerns over Iran's space program has been exacerbated over Safir rocket's advanced 2nd stage which Iran has kept secret by not releasing any technical information related to the second stage of the rocket, keeping outside observers guessing over the technicalities.[115][116][117][118][119][120][121]

See also


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External links

  • Iranian Space Agency
  • Space Science
  • Iranian Space Agencies (listing)
  • Iran space program
  • Shahab SLV
  • Aerospace Industries Organization
  • Iran in Space
  • A glimpse of Iran’s latest aerospace achievementsPressTV (2016)
  • Imam Khomeini Space Center – IranNuclear Threat Initiative (2013)
  • Video on Iran Space Program on YouTube
  • Iran's space technology program – Part I Part II Part IIIPressTV
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