Encyclopedia Astronautica
Iran



qom.gif
Qom
Credit: © Mark Wade
Iran, following a thirty year effort to acquire foreign technology however possible, launched its first satellite in 2009.

The last Shah of Iran had a dream of creating a 'Great Civilisation' - an Iran that, by the year 2000, would exceed France in population, per capita income, and military potential. Part of this was creation of a nuclear deterrent, so that Iran could take its rightful place at the table of nations. The first contract was let in 1975 in a $30 billion program to build a network of 20 nuclear power stations around the country. More discretely, nascent nuclear research for other purposes was begun at locations in Tehran and Karaj.

Nuclear weapons would need delivery systems, and the most sophisticated American aerospace technology was graciously transferred. At the time of the 1979 revolution, Iranians had been trained in maintenance of sophisticated aircraft and helicopters at state-of-the-art depots built at Isfahan and Mehrabad. Ground had been broken for aircraft production factories outside of Isfahan, but no substantial training, tooling, or technology transfer had occurred. With a view to the future, the Shah's government reserved three internationally-allocated positions in geosynchronous orbit for Iran.

The new Islamic Republic abandoned most of these militaristic plans, but the harsh reality of the war with Iraq changed the mind of the government. The American aircraft and missiles were kept in operation, first with the assistance of Filipino maintenance specialists, then using predominately locally-trained staff. Iran decided to acquire its own ballistic missiles to match those of Iraq. Details remain murky, but from some combination of Syria, Libya, North Korea, Russia, and China, Iran acquired up to a dozen launchers and several hundred rockets of various models of R-17 Scud missiles. As many as 231 Iranian Scuds were fired at Baghdad during the 'War of the Cities' in 1988. The necessary tooling and raw stock to open a factory for manufacture of the Scud-B were said to have been purchased from North Korea in 1988, but without missiles being immediately produced. Other stories in the 1990's spoke of Russian assistance in transferring more advanced R-12 missile technology.

Whatever the real circumstances, by the end of the 1990's Iran had acquired the necessary technology, materials, and expertise to begin production of the North Korean Nodong-1 missile as the Shahab-3. This was followed by indigenous Iranian modifications and improvements, leading to test firing of an improved Shahab-3 in late 2004. This was said to be the basis of a space launcher, to be launched by Iranian New Year (No Ruz), March 21, 2005.

Iranian work on satellites was renewed in the mid-1990's in parallel with the development of the necessary rocketry. The Islamic Republic planned to share two of the geosynchronous slots reserved by the Shah 25 years earlier with others. However an Iranian satellite, dubbed Zohreh, would be placed in the third slot. Iranian intentions were thwarted when the United States blocked most countries from responding to Iran's tender calls for development of such a satellite.

To acquire satellite technology, it was decided that the Shahab-3-derived launch vehicle would be used to launch a completely indigenous Safir minimum satellite first. This would be followed by the Mesbah, developed in collaboration with Italy, as early as May 2005. A Mesbah-2 store-dump communications satellite would be deployed later. The constellation would be lofted in contracted launches from other countries. In January 2005, the long-blocked Zohreh geosynchronous satellite project finally went ahead with a contract signed with Russia.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Ansari Ansari, Anousheh nee Raissyan (1966-) Iranian-American engineer cosmonaut. Flew on ISS EP-11. First female space tourist. First Iranian in space. More...

Associated Spacecraft
  • Mesbah-2 Iranian civilian store-dump communications satellite. One launch, 2005.10.27, Sinah-1. Prototype of a store-forward communications system satellite for survivable communications. To be launched by a foreign launch vehicle, originally slated for 2005. More...
  • Safir Iran Iranian technology satellite. Study 2005. Minimum satellite equipped like the first Sputnik with only a transmitter to confirm that it achieved orbit. Planned for launch by the Iranian Shahab-3 launcher in early 2005. More...
  • Mesbah Iranian technology satellite. Study 2006. Technology satellite with imaging and communications payloads. Planned as the operational payload of the Iranian Shahab-3 orbital launch vehicle. The satellite would be cube-shaped, 50 cm on a side. More...
  • Omid Iranian technology satellite. 2 launches, 2008.08.16 (Omid) and 2009.02.02. First Iranian-built, Iranian-launched satellite. More...
  • Zohreh Iranian communications satellite. In development, 2008. Iranian geosynchronous communications satellite that was to be built with Russian assistance, containing an Alcatel communications payload. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Oghab Iranian unguided solid propellant artillery rocket, licensed production of Chinese Type 83. Entered service in 1986. More...
  • Shahab 4 Iranian missile said to be derived from Soviet-era R-12 intermediate range ballistic missile and having a 1400 kg payload. Was to have been the basis for an Iranian space launcher, then abandoned in 2003 in favor of development of the Shahab 3 for the role. More...
  • Shahab 3 Iranian intermediate range ballistic missile, evolved incrementally with Russian assistance from initial copy of North Korean Nodong 1 into a longer-range missile and the first stage of an orbital launch vehicle. Initial version began flight tests in 1998. More...
  • Shahab 3 Iranian intermediate range ballistic missile, evolved incrementally with Russian assistance from initial copy of North Korean Nodong 1 into a longer-range missile and the first stage of an orbital launch vehicle. Initial version began flight tests in 1998. More...
  • Ashura Iranian two-stage solid-propellant missile, evidently using some Shahab systems and its re-entry vehicle. More...
  • Safir-2 Iran's first orbital launch vehicle, based on the Shahab 3 intermediate range ballistic missile with upper stages. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Associated Launch Sites
  • Khatami Khatami Air Base, located northeast of Isfahan, is a dual military/civilian facility, also known as Isfahan Shahid International Airport. Two tactical fighter squadrons are based there. Aerospace manufacturing and test facilities were being built there prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution by by Bell, Northrop, and Grumman. In the decades thereafter these were developed into aircraft overhaul and repair facilities. Manufacturing and research were accomplished by the Iranian military at Khatami in collaboration with the University of Isfahan, which designed most of Iran's remote piloted vehicles. It was believed the Iran-140 tactical rocket was manufacturered here. More...
  • Qom Military testing range, located near this Iranian religious centre, known to have been used for one launch in 1991, reaching 200 kilometers altitude. More...
  • Emamshahr Iranian military testing range. In use for flight test of the Shahab 3 IRBM from 1998. More...
  • Tabriz What has been identified by Sean O'Connor as Iran's first IRBM field is located 10 kilometers southwest of Tabriz. As of 2008 site consisted of the silo field, an administrative and support area, missile storage bunkers, and an unoccupied HQ-2 surface-to-air missile site. The latter was used as a staging area for mobile Shahab missile transport-erector launchers. The two silos seemed to include blast vents, indicating a hot-launch design. More...

Iran Chronology


1966 September 12 - .
  • Birth of Anousheh nee Raissyan Ansari - . Nation: Iran; USA. Summary: Iranian-American engineer cosmonaut. Flew on ISS EP-11. First female space tourist. First Iranian in space..

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 Mar - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Weapon - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 March 12 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Kirkuk - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1985 March 14 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: R-17. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Baghdad - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1991 May 1 - . Launch Site: Qom. LV Family: R-17. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 6.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1994 November 6 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1994 November 6 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1994 November 6 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1997 February - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 4.
  • Russo-Iranian technical assistance in rocketry - . Nation: Iran. Israel provided US intelligence agencies with a copy of a $7 million contract between NPO Trud and Iran for equipment related to the R-12 IRBM. Other Russian contributions included wind tunnel, software, and mathematical modelling services from TsAGI, Polyus for laser gyro systems, and development of a solid-fuel capability.

1998 July 22 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1998 August - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Iranian satellite launcher mockup exhibited - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Iranian television showed what appeared to be a mock-up of a clam-shell nosecone with a small satellite inside and a model of a space launch vehicle with a bulbous payload section, apparently based upon the Shahab 3 joint North Korean/Iranian IRBM..

1999 June 10 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1999 June 10 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1999 June 10 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Ashraf - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1999 November 2 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Habib - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1999 November 2 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Habib - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1999 November 2 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs Camp Habib - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

2000 July 15 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2000 September 21 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Shahab-3D. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2000 September 21 - . Launch Site: Semnan. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Shahab-3D.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 1.00 km (0.60 mi).

2000 December 29 - .
  • Iranian Comunications Satellite - . Nation: Iran. Iran's Telecommunications Corporation said it would select one satellite supplier from bids received from France, Russia, China and India. The long-planned Zohreh communication satellite would be the first domestic communications satellite to serve Iran's 60 millions population. A decision was expected in early 2001, but yet again it seemed the project was postponed.

2001 April 18 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1 [many launches].
  • vs MKO camps - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

2001 April 18 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs MKO camps - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

2001 April 18 - . Launch Site: Kermanshah. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • vs MKO camps - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

2002 May 5 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2002 July 4 - . Launch Site: Shahroud. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2003 June 1 - . Launch Site: Emamshahr. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
2003 July 7 - . Launch Site: Shahroud. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2004 August 11 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi). Summary: Missile demonstration flight. Stretched Shahab-3 launched into Dasht-E-Kavir desert..

2004 October 20 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi). Summary: Missile demonstration flight. Stretched Shahab-3 launched into Dasht-E-Kavir desert..

2005 October 27 - . 06:52 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC132/1. LV Family: Kosmos 3. Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 11K65M. LV Configuration: Kosmos 11K65M 104.
  • Sinah-1 - . Mass: 160 kg (350 lb). Nation: Iran. Agency: Polyot. Class: Surveillance. Type: Civilian surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Mesbah-2. USAF Sat Cat: 28893 . COSPAR: 2005-043D. Apogee: 705 km (438 mi). Perigee: 682 km (423 mi). Inclination: 98.2000 deg. Period: 98.60 min. First Iranian satellite, with an experimental surveillance camera payload. It may have used the Russian Polyot enterprise's Sterkh satellite bus. The same bus was to be used in future Nadezhda satellites. The Strekh bus was said to accomodate 80-100 kg satellites, and be 1.0 m high and 0.4 m in diameter, with a design life of 5 years. Sinah was 160 kg, and 0.8 x 1.3 x 1.6 m in dimensions. Or it may have been a version of the previously-announced satellite dubbed Mesbah-2.

2006 May 22 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Shahab 3D test - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2006 November 2 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Iranian multiple missile firings - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi). The Iranians fired at least one Shahab-3 and "dozens of" Shahab-2, Zolfaghar-73, Scud B, Fath-110 and Zelzal missiles in a mass firing demonstration to kick off their Great Prophet 2 military exercise. It marked the first firing of the Shahab 3 by troops on exercise as opposed to a test flight. The Shahab 2 was reported to have demonstrated a 1,400-bomblet cluster bomb warhead.

2006 December 1 - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Shahab 3 Sounding rocket.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

2007 November 20 - . Launch Site: Shahroud. Launch Vehicle: Ashura. LV Configuration: Ashura R&D.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

2008 February 4 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2.
  • Iran tests satellite launcher. - . Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Summary: Iran's president tours new space launch facilities and a rocket is launched, said by some to be a test version of the Shahab satellite vehicle without operative upper stages..

2008 July 8 - . 03:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Shahroud. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Shahab 3 Ghadr 1.
  • - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).

2008 August 16 - . 19:32 GMT - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2. FAILURE: Second stage failed catastrophically..
  • Omid - . Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Omid. Apogee: 152 km (94 mi). Iranian suborbital launch in support of development of an indigenous satellite launch capability. Western analysts claimed it was a failed satellite launch attempt, and that the second stage of the launch vehicle failed catastrophically at 152 km altitude.

2008 November 11 - . Launch Site: Shahroud. Launch Vehicle: SE.4400. LV Configuration: SE.4400 R&D.
  • Sejjil-1 - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).

2008 November 12 - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Seijil. Launch Vehicle: Seijil.
  • Iran RV - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Technology payload..

2008 November 26 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2.
  • Kavoshgar-2 - . Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Summary: Called Kavoshgar..

2009 February 2 - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2. LV Configuration: Safir-2 s/n 2.
  • Omid - . Mass: 25 kg (55 lb). Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Omid. Decay Date: 2009-04-25 . USAF Sat Cat: 33506 . COSPAR: 2009-004A. Apogee: 373 km (231 mi). Perigee: 245 km (152 mi). Inclination: 55.5500 deg. Period: 90.70 min. Summary: First Iranian satellite launched by an Iranian launch vehicle..

2009 May 20 - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Seijil. Launch Vehicle: Seijil. LV Configuration: Sejjil-2.
  • Missile test - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 800 km (490 mi). Summary: Test.

2009 September 27 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Shahab RV - . Mass: 100 kg (220 lb). Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test.

2009 September 27 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Shahab RV - . Mass: 100 kg (220 lb). Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test.

2009 September 28 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3.
  • Shahab RV - . Mass: 500 kg (1,100 lb). Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test.

2009 September 28 - . LV Family: Seijil. Launch Vehicle: Seijil.
  • Sejjil RV - . Mass: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test.

2009 December 16 - . LV Family: Seijil. Launch Vehicle: Seijil. LV Configuration: Seijil 2.
  • Seijil test - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Test of two-stage solid-propellant IRBM, which Iran claimed was 'faster' (lower drag re-entry vehicel?) than earlier versions and had stealth capabilities. US authorities said they detected no different performance compared to earlier launches..

2010 February 3 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2. LV Configuration: Kavoshgar.
  • Kavoshgar-3 - . Nation: Iran. Agency: IRSA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). Summary: Biology payload..

2010 August 20 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Qiam-1.
  • Shahab RV - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). Summary: Test mission..

2011 March 15 - . LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2. LV Configuration: Kavoshgar.
  • Kavoshgar-4 - . Nation: Iran. Apogee: 120 km (70 mi). Summary: R&D launch.

2011 June 15 - . 09:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Safir-2.
  • Rasad - . Mass: 15 kg (33 lb). Nation: Iran. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Decay Date: 2011-07-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 37675 . COSPAR: 2011-025A. Apogee: 299 km (185 mi). Perigee: 236 km (146 mi). Inclination: 55.7000 deg. Summary: Satellite with an imaging payload..

2011 June 28 - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 5. LV Configuration: Shahab 1.
  • Shahab RV - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test..

2011 June 28 - . Launch Site: Semnan. LV Family: Shahab. Launch Vehicle: Hwasong 6. LV Configuration: Shahab 2.
  • Shahab RV - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test..

2011 June 28 - . Launch Site: Semnan. Launch Vehicle: Shahab 3. LV Configuration: Ghadr.
  • Shahab RV - . Nation: Iran. Summary: Operational test..

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