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Iran to Place New Satellite Into Orbit in 2011

Iran's First Domestically Built Satellite, Omid-1. Via PressTV.


Head of Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), Mahdi Farahi, said Tuesday that Iran is preparing to launch its second indigenous communications satellite named Mesbah (Lantern) aboard a Safir-2 (Ambassador) booster rocket in 2011. Iran has drawn up its final schedule to launch a semi-domestic research satellite as a part of Tehran’s attempt for an independent space program. Much of the technology developed for Tehran’s Safir-2 and Shahab-3 rocket boosters are believed to be applicable to building an intercontinental ballistic missile. Farahi claims the satellite will be used to collect and store data and transmit this information back to Earth. This announcement comes nearly ten months after the successful launch of the Omid-1 (Hope) satellite from the Semnan Space Research Center in the Dasht-e-Kavir desert south of Tehran. For video of the launch, click here AP and BBC.

Iran's Key Nuclear Sites. Click image for a detailed analysis of each site. Via BBC/1155/New Scientist/Global Security.


If the launch is successful, it could significantly impact the U.S.-led negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. The success of recent test-firings of the Shahab-3 boosters and the more sophisticated Sajjil-2 ballistic missiles indicate that Tehran has made significant technological advances in the last two or three years. The concerns of the United States and Israel, along with European and Arab states, about Iran’s missile capabilities were heightened earlier this month with reports that the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), believed Iranian scientists had experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design. While the IAEA is set to report next week on its findings, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei stated previously that there was no conclusive evidence that Iran was currently pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The mediations between Washington and Tehran have continued, but time is not on President Obama’s side, as ElBaradei will leave the IAEA on November 30.

Shahab-3 Size and Range. Via Missile Defense Advocacy/Jane's Info Group/FAS/Global Security.


For an excerpt of CNN’s interview with ElBaradei, click here CNN. For a video discussion with ElBaradei on the ongoing negotiations with Iran, click here Council on Foreign Relations. For a look at the satellite imagery that has fueled recent reports of Tehran’s covert nuclear program, click here Institute for Science and International Security.

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