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Iran expands space capabilities

Feb. 7, 2011 at 11:32 AM   |   Comments

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TEHRAN, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Iran is expanding its operational capabilities in space.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has unveiled a model of a domestically made satellite.

The Navid-e Elm va Sanat -- "Good news from science and industry" -- satellite was displayed to the media Monday at an exhibition of the country's achievements in the aerospace industry in Tehran, the Fars news agency reported.

The satellite reportedly is to carry out studies in the field of natural disasters. The display of Iran's growing prowess in space was timed to coincide with Friday's 32nd anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

On Sunday Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran opened two mobile ground stations and a stationary one, utilizing technology "manufactured by Iranian engineers," to receive and process satellite imagery. Ahmadinejad's announcement follows on Vahidi statement that Iran would shortly unveil four satellites built "entirely by Iranian engineers."

Vahidi added that the stations, under the operational command of the geographical department of Iran's Defense Ministry will provide images within accuracy of about three feet to users across Iran, with each station covering an area within a radius of 1,500 miles.

Iran has no operational satellites in space. Western analysts have largely focused on the country's indigenous ballistic missile programs and what many believe is a covert nuclear weapons program hidden behind the country's civilian nuclear power efforts, a charge that Tehran strongly denies, pointing out that, unlike Israel, it is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Navid-e Elm va Sanat satellite is only the first of a number of Iranian prototypes.

Other satellite designs unveiled by Ahmadinejad and Vahidi in Tehran Monday include the Zafar ("Victory"), Rasad 1 ("Observation 1"), Fajr ("Dawn") and the engine of satellite carrier rocket Safir 1B ("Ambassador 1B.)

Zafar is an imaging satellite with a reported resolution down to 260 feet, for use in locating gas and oil resources and environmental studies, as is the Rasad 1 satellite. The Fajr remote sensing satellite includes the ability to maneuver in orbit.

The most ambitious item displayed in Tehran's satellite program is undoubtedly the Kavoshgar 4 ("Explorer 4"), designed to transport a living creature into space after which the payload will be returned to Earth.

Ahmadinejad said, "I think from the end of this (Iranian) year (to March 20) and through the next year, we will see many launches" of domestically built satellites.

Two months ago Vahidi announced that Fajr and Rasad-1 would be launched by March 20.

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