Iranian Space Agency

Iranian Space Agency

Official logo of ISA
Agency overview
Formed February 1, 2004 (2004-02-01)
Jurisdiction Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
Headquarters Tehran, Mahdasht, Shahrood, Qom
Annual budget $71,753,192 (2014)
Agency executive
  • Mohsen Bahrami, Administrator

The Iranian Space Agency (ISA, Persian: سازمان فضایی ایران Sázmán e Fazái e Irán) is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009.[1] Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was set up in 1958.[1]


ISA was established on 1 February 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on 10 December 2003 by the Parliament of Iran. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by Iran’s President.

The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues.

To follow and implement the strategies set by the Council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time.[2]

In 2015 Iran's space program was quietly suspended by President Rouhani following international pressures.[3]


The proposed budget for the year 1393 (2014-2015) is 1,865,583 million rials ($71,753,192). Other related organizations have received separate budget allocations. Iranian Space Research Center has received an additional 1,751,000 million rials ($67,346,100) of budget for the year 1393.[4]

The budget for the year 2008 was mentioned to be $3.9 billion (2008).[5] However it was not apparent whether the allocation was just for one year or a longer period.

Satellite launch vehicle

Main articles: Safir (rocket) and Simorgh (rocket)

Safir SLV

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 liquid propellant stages, a single thrust chambered first stage and a two-thrust chambered, step-throttled second stage, the SLV has a lift off mass exceeding 26 tons. The first stage consists 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 a two-stage rocket with all liquid propellant engines. The first stage is capable of carrying the payload to the maximum altitude of 68 kilometers.[6]


The Safir-1B is the second generation of Safir SLV and can carry a satellite weighing 60 kilograms into an elliptical orbit of 300 to 450 kilometers. The thrust of the Safir-1B rocket engine has been increased from 32 to 37 tons.

Simorgh SLV

In 2010 a more powerful rocket named Simorgh was built. Its mission is to carry heavier satellites into orbit.[7][8] The Simorgh rocket is 27 meters (89 ft) long, and has a mass of 77 tonnes (85 tons).[4] Its first stage is powered by four main engines, each generating up to 29,000 kilograms (64,000 lb) of thrust, plus a fifth which will be used for altitude control, which provides an additional 13,600 kilograms (30,000 lb). At liftoff, these engines will generate a total of 130,000 kilograms (290,000 lb) of thrust. Simorgh is capable of putting a 60-kilogram (130 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310 mi) low Earth orbit. In 2015, Israeli media reported the missile is capable of taking a manned spacecraft or satellite into space.[9][10] The first flight of the Simorgh rocket occurred on 19 April 2016.[11]

Qoqnoos SLV

On 2 February 2013, The head of the Iranian space agency, Fazeli mentioned that the new satellite launch vehicle, Qoqnoos (Phoenix) will be used after the Simorgh SLV for heavier payloads.[12][13]

Sub-orbital launches

On February 25, 2007, the Iranian state-run television announced that a rocket, created by the ministries of science and defense and which carried an unspecified cargo, was successfully launched.This could have been the maiden test flight of the three staged Safir SLV which ended in a failure. Later on it was noted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the failure was due to a technical problem in the last stage of the rocket.[14] On February 4, 2008, Iran successfully launched a two-stage all solid-fuel sub-orbital sounding rocket Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1), for a maiden sub-orbital test flight from Shahroud, its newly inaugurated domestic space launch complex.[15][16] 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. It deployed a parachute after six minutes at a lower altitude. The second kavoshgar (Kavoshgar-2), which carried a space-lab and a restoration system, was launched in November 2008.[17]

Animals in space

Following the last failed attempt, ISA was seeking to successfully send a monkey into space by 2013.[22] ISA head Hamid Fazeli told the Iranian news agency Mehr that the designated monkeys are currently in quarantine.[23]

Orbital launches

On August 17, 2008, Iran proceeded with the second test launch of a two-stage Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert. 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 successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit". 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 and therefore Iran became the 9th country to put a domestically built satellite into orbit.[27] The operation was made to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. In February 2011, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that there will be many launches of indigenously produced orbiters in 2011-2012 period.[28]

Iran plans to send one-ton satellites into an orbit of 1,000 kilometers and is setting up a new launch base for this purpose. Iran is also planning to launch satellites into orbits of up to 36,000 kilometers in 2016.[29][30][31]

Launched satellites

Unlaunched satellites

Space centers

The main launch site of the Iranian Space Agency is Emamshahr, located at 36°25′0″N 55°01′0″E / 36.41667°N 55.01667°E / 36.41667; 55.01667 (Iranian Space Agency Emamshahr), where suborbital Shahab 3s LV have been launched. Qom, located at 34°39′0″N 50°54′0″E / 34.65000°N 50.90000°E / 34.65000; 50.90000 (Iranian Space Agency Qom), is the other launch site.[82]

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, its first Satellite Launch Center 35°14′02″N 53°55′16″E / 35.234°N 53.921°E / 35.234; 53.921 (Iranian Space Agency Satellite Launch Center Semnan) in Semnan. The facility includes an underground command and control center, a tracking station and a launchpad among other structures.

In December 2010 it was announced that due to geographical limitations of first space center in injecting satellite into orbit, studies have been carried out for setting up a second (satellite) launch pad.[83] The new national spaceport of Iran, named after Imam Khomeini,[84] is being built in Semnan.[85] This new port is to be used to launch all future Iranian space missions similar to American Kennedy Space Center or the Baikonur Cosmodrome.[86][87][88] In March 2011, Jane's Information Group reported on the basis of its satellite imagery analysis of Iranian space launch sites that Iran is aggressively building complex facilities with very rapid pace showing the nation's inclinations towards space readiness.[89]

In June 2013 Iran inaugurated its first space monitoring center located near Delijan in Markazi province, according to Iran's Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi the new center which was named Imam Ja'far Sadeq would mostly be used to track and detect space objects and satellites passing overhead using radar, electro-optic and radio systems.[90][91][92]

Space test laboratory

In 2011 Iran launched a number of laboratories for testing “space structures and systems” in line with its progressing space program. The laboratory includes ten labs to “reinforce infrastructures of Iran's space industry” and help improve the abilities of human resources.[93]

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, 1990. 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 the Soviet Union.

Almost two decades later the Iranian News Agency claimed on November 21, 2005, that the Iranians have a manned space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory. [94] 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.[95][96]

In August 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran's first astronaut should be sent into space on board an Iranian spacecraft by no later than 2019.[97][98] Later on in December 2010, Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Reza Taghipour stated that “The initial steps for the plan have been taken, and the study phase on the definition of subsystems, sub-projects, costs, and what projects need to be developed toward that end, has been conducted, which needs to be submitted to the Supreme Council on Space”.[83] According to Iranian manned space program, the first sub-orbital spaceflight with an Iranian on board will take place by 2016 at an altitude below 200 kilometers as preparation for the eventual orbital spaceflight.[99]

On February 17, 2015, Iran unveiled a mock prototype of Iranian manned spaceship that is capable of taking astronauts into space.[100] According to Iran's Space Administrator, this program has been put on hold indefinitely.

Space station

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 astronauts to the 60 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.[101]

Lunar program

Western media has quoted that Iran has plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2025.[99][102][103][104][105][106]


The Iranian space program has been condemned by United States and Europe because of their concern over its military potential. Some analysts have compared the relatively fast Iranian advancement in space technology to Russia's Sputnik program with the prediction that this advancement will propel Iran's military capability in other areas as well. The recent launches of the Iranian space program has put its rocket technology ahead of North Korea's, especially in multi-stage technologies necessary for orbital launch. The military concerns over Iran's space program has been exacerbated over Safir rocket's advanced 2nd stage which Iran has kept secret by not releasing any technical information related to the second stage of the rocket, keeping outside observers guessing over the technicalities.[107][108][109][110][111][112][113]

See also


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External links

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