Iran gears up for first satellite launch

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives overview of the Omid satellite, February 4, 2008

Iranian scientists prepare for a new stage of the space program, with only weeks remaining before the country's first satellite launch.

Iran first announced plans to carry out a domestic satellite launch in September 2007 after testing its first domestically-produced satellite carrier, Safir 1.

At that time, the Head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, Reza Taqipour, told Press TV that the launch of the Safir 1 was the first step toward sending the Iranian-made telecommunications satellite, Omid (Hope) into orbit.

In recent comments, however, Taqipour pointed to a more accurate deadline, announcing that Omid is just weeks away from launch.

"The satellite will be launched into space by the end of the year [the Iranian calendar year that ends on March 20], that is if no complications or changes in schedule occur," Taqipour told ISNA.

Omid is a research satellite that has been designed for gathering information and testing equipment. After orbiting for one to three months, Omid will return to earth, bringing back data with it that will help Iranian experts send an operational satellite into space.

Head of Iran's Aerospace Organization Reza Taqipour

Omid will carry experimental satellite control devices, communications and digital equipment, and power supply systems, to a distance of around 250 to 350 kilometers from the earth's atmosphere.

Completion of the semi-domestic research satellite, Meshbah, is another recent achievement of Iran's aerospace experts.

Mesbah, which is ready for launch into outer space, has been equipped with a store and forward communications receiver that can gather information from various parts of the planet and then transmit it back to a certain position.

According to Taqipour, Iranian scientists have also finished designing a satellite called Besharat, which is to be launched in a joint effort with the members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Taqipour said that the Aerospace Organization would soon send the details of the design to OIC countries to receive their suggestions and find out exactly to what extent each state plans to participate in the project.

Iran hopes to take great leaps in space technology in the coming decade, with plans to send an astronaut into space by 2021.