The confusing Iranian space program


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Link here. While written as an op-ed outlining the chaotic state of the Iranian space effort, the article highlights two pieces of interesting information.

First, Iran wants to create its own GPS satellite system, which the article refers to as a “pointing, navigation, and timing” (PNT) system.

Mojtaba Saradeghi, a deputy director of the Iran Space Agency (ISA), recently told Iranian media that the ISA plans to develop an indigenous PNT capability. Saradeghi said that the PNT programme is a long-term one and that the ISA is still figuring out how it will be funded.

This announcement is almost certainly pure bluster, instigated by the agreements signed last week between Israel and India, one of which involved working together to develop their own atomic clocks used in GPS satellites.

Second, Iran has decided that instead of launching an already built smallsat they will put it on display in a museum. The smallsat, Mesbah, was built in partnership with Italy back in the early 2000s but never launched because it was seized by Russia and Italy in 2006 due to international sanctions. Though negotiations are on-going now to get it released with the easing of sanctions, the head of the Iran Space Agency, Mohsen Bahrami, on July 2 still said it was going to be mothballed if they get it back.

This incoherence fits with other recent announcements by Iran. They have repeatedly been promising that a number of satellites will be launched in the coming months, but those launches seem to never happen. In addition, they announced in early June that they were shutting down any further work on a human space mission, citing cost.

I would not be surprised it missile tests continue, however. Iran is a corrupt theocracy and semi-dictatorship, and it is typical of these kinds of top-down governments to focus their effort on military technology.

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One comment

  • LocalFluff

    They might have a GPS transmitter in the museum. And they might launch one GPS satellite for the prestige of it. This is Iran, things don’t add up, inshallah.

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