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Iran’s Second Satellite Launch after Two Year Major Delays

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical & Policy Analyst

07-21-10 /03-07/25-6//6-15-11

Rasad-1 Imaging Satellite (Iran space Earth Observation)

The Rasad-1, 15.3 kilogram [33.74 pound] satellite was finally launched into a 260 kilometer altitude orbit high resolution mapping mission after an almost two year delay on June 15, 2011.

After two years of multiple delays Iran finally appears to be getting ready to launch its second satellite the Rasad-1 though not on the suggested schedule. It is to be launched on the Safir-1B an improved Safir-2 class two stage space booster. All along during its previously predicted planned orbiting originally set for during the “Government Week” of August 24-30, 2010 it was still in the construction, research and development stage of preparation. This indicated the State planning schedule was not being met by the space industry of Iran for the Iranian Space Agency and its political leadership. That was only completed in October 2010 but it was still required to undergo further ground environmental testing. Again this indicated that the R & D was still not completed after almost two years of effort. That says nothing about its previous undocumented lead up effort of perhaps 3-5 years. Its ground testing from the start of October 2010 was to be completed within four months before launch during the suggested but not fixed launch window” described.

The launch of Rasad-1 has now been publicly predicted by Iranian Space Agency (ISA) officials and the Minister of Defense Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi to take place between, February 11-27, 2011 (the 32 nd. anniversary of the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979) and March 20, 2011 the start of the Iranian new fiscal year the Iranian “new year’s”. This window is at the end of the fiscal Iranian year and the beginning of the next Iranian fiscal year.

Again this launch public pronounced planned scheduling though not fixed was not met to the desires of the Iranian Space Agency, political, and ministerial leadership. The repeated failures to meet the launch schedules bring into question both the reasons for and the impact of sanctions on those programs. It also reflects badly on the Iranian political leadership speaking of a capability that they supposedly have when in fact they are years from accomplishing. It reminds one of the former Soviet leadership boasting under the late Premiere Nikiti Khrushchev. Much of Iran’s space program activities are designed to military Science & Technology support requirements as well as its geopolitical image perception influence in the region psychological operations. Without the military support it simply would not exist in Iran. Obviously these set back's reflect badly on the national leadership and the nation's geopolitical image influence.

Iran’s first satellite Omid (hope) an experimental repeater communications technology satellite was launched February 2, 2009.

`Safir-1B Improvement over the Safir-2 Used for Omid Launch

Safir-1, 2, & 1B Iranian Launch Vehicles

Safir-1, 2, & 1B Iranian Launch Vehicles

The Safir-2 (Ambassador-2) booster was used to launch Iran’s first satellite Omid (hope) on February 2, 2009. Its payload capacity has been superseded by the Safir-1B (Ambassador-1B) booster with its 50 kilogram payload capacity with an elliptical orbit of 330 to 450 kilometers. It post boost payload maneuvering capability allows it to circularize payloads at 450m kilometers.

Safir-1, 2 Iranian Launch Vehicle

It had been suggested that Iran was in the final stages of preparing the Safir two stage booster to launch the 60-63.5 kilogram (132-140 Pound) cube shaped Mesbah-2 [Lantern] satellite from the Semnan Range south east of Semnan Iran. Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Reza Taqipour, stated that "the semi-domestic telecommunications satellite is ready for launch." He went on to state that "The Mesbah satellite had successfully completed pre-launch tests and is now ready for take-off." For further information on the Mesbah satellite see: http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/world/iran/multi.htm

Safir Block-II Class Space Booster It also revealed indirectly on June 8, 2010 that Safir Block-2 with three stages will fly in 2011. While the Simorgh-3 IRILV Booster is expected to fly in 2012 with a height of 27 meters using at least two or three stages with a total launch mass of 85 tonnes on a launch thrust of 143 tonnes to placing a 60 kilogram satellite into a 500 kilometer orbit. Only the Safir-1B booster without strap-ons has appeared so far reflecting some performance improvements over the Safir-2 previous booster design. The new third stage has apparently been incorporated as a part of the satellite payloads.

Previous Reporting From 2009-2010.

Iran early in 2010 both displayed and announced plan to launch three satellites named Mesbah-2 [Lantern], Tolou [Sunrise or Dawn], and Mehr Navid–e-Elm-0-Sanat (Good News and or Promising Sign) they have now added on June 8, 2010 the Rasad-1 satellite. The second Iranian satellite launch utilizing the Rasad-1 satellite is presently planned for launch during the period of August 24-30, 2010, according to Reze Taiqpour the Telecommunications and Information Technology, Minister. That is during the so called “Government Week” according to this regime celebration. All of the expected 5-6 satellites are supposed to be launch before the end of March 2011 specifically before March 21, 2011. Iran’s first satellite launch was February 2, 2009 with the satellite Omid (Hope).

The Rasad-1 satellite is an experimental observation satellite based on the information received with further detailed announcement on it and other satellites planned for launch is expected soon.

Early in 2010 Iran’s Minister of Communications, Reza Taghipour indicated that Iran is now planning to launch three new satellites of five or six domestically built satellites then under construction to be launched over the next two years. The first launch is expected before March 21, 2011 the Iranian new years and may come before the end of 2010.

Iran had previously announced that it was in the process of preparing a total of five to seven satellites some of which were to be foreign launched. Two were to be launched in 2010 with Russian help via a newly signed contract in May 2010 between Iran and Russia.

Iran’s Second Satellite Launch Major Delayed?

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst


Iran has missed it publicly stated State Planned summer 2009 satellite launch schedule to no surprise. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a special February 2009 visit to the Russian Federation pleaded with the Russian, Federal Space Agency to launch the Mesbah-2 [Lantern] satellite for them using a Kosmos booster. Russia’s Federal Space Agency continues to refuse to cooperate further on space and nuclear issues to a large degree with Iran because of UN ordered sanctions and trade embargo requirements.

For two weeks in late September and early October through November 2009 Iranian TV has been displaying patriotic satellite launch video tapes programs and news program as a public build up to the expected announcement of the next launch. The obvious delay in this second satellite launch confidently predicted by early October 2009 certainly portends of problems as well as government requirement priorities over their now frustrated so called civil space program and its future advancement. The funding is apparently being diverted to the defense industry related projects immediate defense needs even though this space development is an extension of that dual purpose industry.

Starting in February 2003 both Iran and Italy cooperated in developing the Mesbah communications satellite. It first attempted launch failed in 2005 according to Taqipour because "they lacked the self-sufficiency in aerospace technology" It will not be launch from the Iran launch center on an Iranian launch vehicle. Iran successfully orbited its Omid data processing satellite on February 2, 2009. In 2005 Iran's first satellite the Sina-1 with its telecommunications and photographic equipment was launched by Russia. The first Mesbah-1 [Lantern] satellite was in fact lost in a launch mishap in 2005. Subsequently a satellite developed by Iran, China and Thailand was orbited. When Iran requested that Italian’s Carlo Gavazzi Space company that cooperated in developing and manufacturing of the satellite also launch it they refused the request offer saying it was impossible and not planned. This was contrary to General Mahdi Farahi the new head of the Aerospace Industries suggestion of a launch after March 2011. The satellite is still at the company facilities in Italy. Iran then suggested that the launch would be made by Iran with no outside help since Italy and Russia decided not to do it, but Iran would have to build another version of the design for itself since Italy still has the satellite and no export license will be granted by Italy. They were not about to jeopardize their space business opportunities in the face of UN sanctions.

So it would appear that Iran is attempting to produce the satellite themselves through various means it has previously used to circumvent the world denial. It may also be possible that Iran is moving to and augmented version of the Safir-2 Block-II Class space booster with possible solid motor strap-ones boosters and a solid motor third stage that was suggested would appear in 2010.

Iran is ahead in some respect to North Korea missile technology wise especially in Solid Propellant technology. Iran has not fully taken on the more difficult Unha-2/Taep'o-dong-2 booster testing leaving it to North Korea to perfect with their cooperation. This is even though they have the propulsion systems for that launch vehicle in hand. Iran's solid propellant programs as well as the Shahab-6/ Unha-2/Taep'o-dong-2 program are all delayed by technological issues.

Thank You.

I need to thank John Locker of the UK for providing the heads up on the Iranian TV programming activities as well as Nicholas Badenhorst of SA for the heads up on the press


1. Iranian Scientists Brace for Another Spaceshot, IG Moderator, Iran Defense.net, Oct 12, 2009, p. 1-2, http://www.irandefence.net/showthread.php?p=793672#post793672

2. Tehran Times, Iranian Scientists Brace for another Spaceshot, Oct. 13, 2009, P. 1-2.

3. By Nasser Karimi, Iran turns to Italy to launch satellite, AP, Tehran Iran, Nov. 11, 2009, p.1-2

4. Italian company says no launch for Iran satellite, AP, Rome, Nov 12, 2009, p.1.

5. By Ali Akbar Dareini, Iran to launch satellite on its own by late 2011, AP, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 20-2009, p. 1-

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:51:44 ZULU