Iran launches operational phase of Soleimani satellite system project
Iran begins the operational phase of the Qassem Soleimani satellite system as part of the Islamic Republic's 10-year space program.
The head of the Iranian Space Agency, Hassan Salarieh, announced on Sunday that Tehran was kicking off the operational phase of the Islamic Republic's first satellite system project named after the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps' Quds Force commander, martyr Qassem Soleimani.
The space chief made the announcement on the Iranian Space Agency's official website, explaining the latest developments regarding the space project, which is part of Iran's ongoing 10-year space program.
"Based on the 10-year space program and in order to provide services to people, government institutions, and organizations, as well as to provide services to private sector companies, the Iranian Space Agency has been tasked with placing a telecommunication satellite system in Earth's orbit," Salarieh said.
"The project's implementation, the ‘Martyr Soleimani Project’, considered to be the first satellite system project in our country, is of great importance, owing to the achievements in the production of satellite series and their network formation," he added.
According to Salarieh, his agency drew up the project's operational plan and codified the executive program of a narrowband telecommunication system with limited service long ago and even before the 10-year space program is finalized.
"Less than a month after the approval of the 10-year space program, one of the most important clauses, the implementation phase of the Martyr Soleimani Project was officially launched," he announced.
Moreover, the agency's executive praised the steps it took, saying it was "axiomatic that upon succeeding in this step, the way to complete and develop satellite systems and provide more services will be paved in the next steps."
Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Issa Zarepour said in December that Iran was set to launch at least two more satellites into orbit by the end of 2022, with several others lined up for being put into orbit.
Asked about the latest developments regarding the launch of Nahid-1 and Nahid-2 satellites, Zarepour told reporters that the two satellites were currently being prepared to be sent into orbit, adding that they would "hopefully" be launched by the end of the year.
Both the Nahid satellites are for telecommunications purposes. Unveiled back in 2015, the Nahid-1 was designed and built by the Iranian Space Research Institute. The Iran Space Agency spearheaded the project, work upon which was done at the Satellite Systems Research Institute of the Iran Space Research Institute.
Furthermore, Zarepour clarified that his ministry strives to have at least two satellites launched by the year-end when he was referring to the design and construction plan of research and operational satellites. He noted that further information on the matter would be released to the media at a later time.
The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force successfully conducted in November a test launch of the Ghaem 100 satellite carrier into earth's sub-orbit
IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh attended the test launch alongside a group of officials of the Iranian armed forces.
The Ghaem 100 is a three-stage satellite launcher that uses solid fuel. It is capable of launching 80 kg satellites into orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers from the earth's surface
The IRGC Aerospace Force launched Noor-2, another indigenously made satellite, using the domestically-built three-stage rocket propelled by a mix of solid and liquid fuels launcher Qassed (messenger) on March 8, 2022, and it is orbiting Earth at an altitude of 500 km.
Noor-2 was launched for reconnaissance, and it went into orbit 480 seconds after launch at a speed of 6.7 km/s.
Iran began its space program in the early 2000s, building its own satellite launcher on the Shahab-4 missile. The Semnan launch pad in the country's north was built in 2009.
Due to high costs, Iran's space program was suspended between 2015 and 2017. Two civilian test launches failed in 2019, but the Iranian military successfully launched two satellites into orbit in 2020 and March 2022.
Later on, the head of the Iranian Space Agency said his country was continuing the production of indigenous satellites, with plans to launch in March 2023 seven homegrown satellites.
The spacecraft planned to launch in 2023 includes the Iranian Nahid, Pars-1, and Zafar satellites, which Tehran already has in its arsenal. The remaining four are still under construction.
The satellite series of Nahid, Pars-1, and Zafar are up there as the most modern Iranian spacecraft. They were designed for telecommunication purposes and for measuring radiation in space.