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The Iranian Space Agency (IRSA, Persian: Sāzmān Fazāii Irān ) is Iranmarker's governmental space agency. Iran is an the active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009.

The president of Iranian Space Agency is one of the deputies of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.ISA was established to conduct research in the field of space and technology. These fields include remote sensing and development of national and international space technology and communication networks. Iranian Space Agency performs the approvals of the Iran Space Council (ISC), which is established in order to peacefully use space technology and science and the above atmosphere space to develop the culture, technology science and finance of the country. The head of ISC is the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Satellite launch vehicle

Iran has developed an expendable satellite launch vehicle named Safir SLV. Measuring 22 m in height with a core diameter of 1.25 m, with two TM-185/AK-27I liquid propellant stages, single thrust chambered first stage and two thrust chamber step throttled second stage, the SLV has a lift off mass exceeding 26 tons. The first stage consist of a lengthened up-rated Shahab-3C. According to the technical documentation presented in the annual meeting of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs it is 2-stage rocket with all liquid propellant engines.The first stage is capable of carrying the payload to the max altitude of 6.8 kilometer. It is designed to place a lightweight (50 kg-100 kg) payload to a 500 km LEO. The lighter sub-orbital all liquid two stages version,is known as Kavoshgar-1. It is the civilian version derived from one of at least four known military ASAT systems still in development, Thus the Safir SLV has a height lengthened by 40 percent.Kavoshgar-2 is a sounding rocket with capability of sending back the second stage to the earth using a parachute.

After the year 2000, Iran had acquired the necessary skills to begin initial production of the Shahab-3 rocket. This was followed by indigenous Iranian modifications and improvements, leading to test firing of an improved version (Shahab SLV) in late 2004, that would be used to launch a completely indigenous Omid satellite.This was to be followed by the Mesbah, developed in collaboration with Italymarker by May 2005. The Mesbah-2 satellite would follow.In January 2005, the Zohreh geosynchronous satellite project was approved with a contract signed with Russia.

Sub-orbital launches

On February 4, 2008, Iran successfully launched the two stages all liquid propellant sub-orbital rocket Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), made of a Safir-class SLV without orbital injection solid third stage, for a maiden sub-orbital test flight from Shahroudmarker, its newly inaugurated domestic space launch complex.The first stage of the rocket detached after 90 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute while the second stage reached a 200 km altitude before reentering the Earth's atmosphere after 300 seconds. The third section of the rocket containing an atmospheric probe climbed to 250 km while successfully transmitting scientific data on the atmosphere and the electromagnetic waves on its path back to Earth before deploying a parachute after six minutes at a lower altitude for its recovery.On February 25, 2007, the Iranian state-run television announced that a rocket, carrying unspecified cargo created by the ministries of science and defence, was successfully launched.This could have been the maiden test flight of the three stages Safir SLV which ended in a failure. The US military expressed doubt as to the existence of this launch, as it was not detected by NORADmarker.

Orbital launches

On August 17, 2008 on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of Shiites' 12th Imam Mahdi, Iran proceeded with the second test launch of a three stages Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desertmarker. Reza Taghizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, told state television "The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier was launched today and for the first time we successfuly launched a dummy satellite into orbit".

As Iranian sources announced having successfully launched Safir Omid launch vehicle, some western sources claimed on the contrary that the entirely new second stage broke up during ascent at an altitude above 152 km, destroying the top of the launcher and its nose cone.

On February 2, 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first "domestically" made satellite Omid (from the Persian امید, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into LEO by a version of Iran's Safir rocket, the Safir-2. The operation was made to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Described as a "data-processing" satellite for "research and telecommunications", Omid would consequently be Iran's second satellite in orbit, after Sina-1 launched on Russia's Kosmos-3M rocket. Iran is the 9th country to put a domestically-built satellite into orbit since the Soviet Union launched the first in 1957.

During a TV interview Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed that the first Iranian attempt to put a satellite in space failed due to a technical failure in the last stage of SLV. He further told that the failure caused "certain people" to come forward and object to Iranian space program with the view that it should be abandoned. But he claims to have pushed for a second launch, which was successful.

Satellites

Although Sinah-1, the first Iranian satellite has been built and launched by the Russians on October 28, 2005 on a Kosmos-3 booster rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodromemarker, making Iran the 43rd country to possess its own satellite.

A joint research satellite Environment 1 of Iran, Chinamarker and Thailandmarker was launched on a Chinese Long March 2C carrier rocket on September 6, 2008, aimed at boosting cooperation on natural disasters such as flooding, drought, typhoon, landslide and earthquake. The twin Natural Disaster Monitoring Satellites of eight planned were launched from Taiyuan SLCmarker. The satellites will work as a constellation with six other satellites yet to be launched. Its observational footprint is 720 km. With a lifespan of more than three years, they have state-of-the-art imaging systems and infrared cameras and provide a global scan every two days.

One month after the first orbital launch attempt, on occasion of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced according to a September 25, 2008 state television report, that Iran was soon to launch a satellite. The satellite could possibly be a communication or meteorological research one.Ahmadinejad said the rocket will have 16 engines and will put the 700 ㎏ satellite some 695 km into space.

Space centers

The main launch site of the Iranian Space Agency is Emamshahrmarker, located at , where suborbital Shahab 3s LV have been launched.Qommarker, located at , is the other launch site.

On occasion of the inaugural launch of Iran's first Safir-class sub-orbital rocket called Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), Iran unveiled on February 4, 2008, her first Satellite Launch Center in Semnan. The facility includes an underground command and control center, a tracking station and a launchpad among other structures.

Future projects

Satellite launch vehicle

A heavy version of the Safir SLV with four additional strap-on solid boosters and enlarged fairing is currently under development, intended to carry payloads up to 200 kg into LEO.

Iran is known to also develop in parallel with the liquid propellant SLV programs a new all-solid SLV. Derived from the new multi-stage Ghadr-110, the payload should exceed 300 kg into LEO .

Among the many Iranian SLVs in development, the most heavy is known as the Shahab-6 SLV, the equivalent of the North Korean Baekdusan-2 SLV and able to put a 550 kg payload into LEO .

According to the quote made by President Ahmadinejad in a gathering of Iranian expatriates,Iran is planning to manufacture new rockets with a range of 700 to 1500 kilometers, capable of sending heavier satellites into space.

Satellites

The second Iranian satellite, Sinah-2 should be launched in 2009 also on a Russian rocket .

The next Iranian satellite, Mesbah should be built by Iran with Italian assistance and launched on a domestically made rocket.

The Iranian Space Agency director has declared in 2005 that in order to reach her ambitious goal of ranking among the top 10 space faring (Russia 1957 Sputnik 1, USA 1958 Explorer 1, France 1965 Astérix, Japan 1970 Ōsumi, China 1970 Dong Fang Hong I, UK 1971 Prospero X-3, India 1980 Rohini 1B, Israel 1988 Ofeq, Ukraine 1995 Sich-1 and Iran 2009 Omid 1) nations, the government would allocate 500 billion USD over the next 5 years to the space program .

According to Mehran Mirshams, deputy head of Iran Aerospace Association, Iranian experts are currently engaged in the development of five satellite projects including Zohreh, Mesbah, ZS4, SM2S and Sepehr, all to be launched before 2010.

After successful launch of first satellite Iranian officials stated that Iran has begun development and building works on seven more satellites. Four of them will have a payload in excess of 100 kg on LEO.

Manned space program

Iran expressed for the first time its intention to send a human to space during the summit of Soviet and Iranian Presidents at June 21, 1989. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached an agreement in principle with then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to Mir space station but this agreement was never realized after the breakup of Soviet Unionmarker.

It was revealed by Iranian News Agency on November 21, 2005, that Iranians have a manned space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory.Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) head Reza Taghipour on August 20, 2008 revealed Iran intends to launch a manned mission into space within a decade. This goal was described as the country's top priority for the next 10 years, in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021. The exact date for the mission would be set within six months.

After successful launch of first satellite Reza Taghizadeh stated in February 2009 that Iran will send its first Faza-Navard (astronaut) on board its own spacecraft launched on its own rocket by 2021. Scientific research on this program has already begun. Iran considers manned space program vital in its technological race and intends to achieve independent manned space ability faster than 15-year duration that China and India took with their own programs.

Iran's first Faza-Navard might be launched to space aboard a Russian spacecraft in an arrangement like India and China. Also, according to unofficial Chinese internet sources, an Iranian participation in the future Chinese space station program has been discussed. This involvement might range from simply sending Faza-Navardan and Yǔhángyuáns to the 100 tons class space station to contributing with development of a space laboratory module. International manned space cooperation has officially been disclosed for the first time after the launch of the Chinese Shenzhou 7 spacecraft.

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