Iran intends to increase development of capacity to send spacecraft into orbit

Friday, March 06, 2009

Logo of the Iranian Space Agency (سازمان فضایی ایران)

Iran intends to use the successful Feb. 2 launch of its Omid store-and-forward communications satellite to spur development of larger spacecraft and higher-capacity versions of the Iranian-built Safir-2 rocket that placed it into orbit, an official with the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) said.

In a Feb. 12 address in Vienna to the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), Reaza Taghipour Anvari of ISA said Omid's development is viewed by the Iranian government as a way to encourage interest in high technology.

U.S. Space Surveillance Network data confirmed that the two-stage Safir-2 rocket placed an object into an orbit with an apogee of 382 km and a perigee of 242 km...Anvari said the Safir-2 rocket, 22 meters long and weighing more than 26,000 kg at launch, was operating to its maximum potential in the Omid launch.
Iran launched its first satellite in 2005 aboard a Russian rocket, and began developing Omid in 2006, a year after the Iranian government announced it would spend $500 million on a domestic space program between 2005 and 2010.
Many of the comments below naturally focus on the political aspects of this, whether this development should be considered a threat. My guess is no: $500 million over five years is still nothing compared to budgets for other nations, and for all its bluster there's no way Iran would be willing to carry out any direct strikes against a nation like Israel.

In the meantime, the next presidential election is on June 12 this year, and based on that we should be able to make more concrete guesses about Iranian foreign policy over the next few years.

And let's not forget that the economic crisis at the moment is the largest security threat to the U.S., so that takes precedence over everything else right now.


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