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Iran ’s First Successful Satellite Orbital Launch

on Third Try

“Safir-E Omid” (Emissary of Hope)

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst


Satellite Launch Safir-III

The Islamic Republic of Iran launched its first unmanned satellite into earth orbit late on February 2, 2009 UTC between 18:36-18:38 GMT . In so doing Iran became the ninth nation to launch its own satellite in honoring the 30 th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. USSTRATCOM has issued numerous two line elements of two objects with object-A usually the satellite in approximately a 245 X 378 km orbit at an inclination of about 55.51 deg, with a period of orbit of about 90.76 minutes. The rocket stage Object-B was apparently placed in a slightly higher orbit of 245 X 440 kilometers with a period close to 91.38 minutes at an inclination of 55.55 degrees.

Safir-1, 2 Iranian Launch Vehicle

Finally the Satellite Launch Safir-III

Several months behind their publicly announced space program planning schedule Iran tried for the third time to launch into earth orbit a Safir (Messenger or Ambassador or Emissary or Envoy) two stage booster with a light technology test bed satellite payload of 50-110 kilograms was actually a mere 27 kilograms not including the booster second last orbital insertion stage. The booster is capable of placing a light satellite into a 250-500 km high orbit at a 55-64 degree inclination. They were attempting to try and perfect the basic technologies for satellite launching into Earth orbit with a modest but marginal multi stage booster staging technology demonstration design that will also help the ballistic missile development program goals.

Iran planned to launch its first domestically built satellite by March 20, 2009 the end of the fiscal three year plan in spite of fundamental program set back's announced in November 2008. This launch date is the original State planning requirement but whether Iran will meet that goal is uncertain based on past performance in spite of official State pressure on the industry government organization. Its pending launch was announced indirectly by the Iranian Space Agency, president of the Iranian Aerospace organization Reza Taqipour on January 27, 2009 . That in fact completed the goal of the State plan before the imposed deadline. It would appear that the Iranians are indeed getting close to perfecting two or three stage launch vehicle technology applicable to ballistic missile with longer range intent.

Omid [Hope] “Light Weigh Satellite”

The ten year research and development project was fulfilled with the Omid [Hope] orbiting. It is a limited life technology development test repeater communications satellite package which has an estimated mass on the order of 50-100 kilograms but was actually a mere 27 kilograms not including the last orbital insertion stage. Called “Omid” (Hope) makes approximately six passes over Iran daily. Completion of the ten year research and development project was mandated to be completed before March 20, 2009 . Initially it was expected to be placed in a high inclination orbit (perhaps an expected inclination of 62-64 degrees instead of the 55.51 degrees) with a 650 kilometer circular obit altitude not achieved with this launch. The rectangular box shaped satellites has no solar arrays only batteries with insulation both internally and externally visible (as like in the engineering models currently displayed in photographs and broadcast on national television). The internal black box instrumentation is design for gather atmospheric data and communications task from low Earth orbit with external transmitting receiving antennas. There are no obvious solar arrays on the outer shell indicating battery powered a short life satellite. The satellite was designed for a limited life 90 day mission utilizing eight antenna’s on two frequencies. It contains many black box instruments giving it a mass of 27 kilograms. Sven Grahn of the Kettering group has recorded signals being transmitted on 465.0 MHz


19. Iran to Send Satellite into Orbit by March 20, Fars News Agency. Wed . January 28, 2009 , p. 1. http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8711081392 and http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/27/content_10727269.htm

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:51:58 ZULU