The United States may have the muscle power to drive a wedge between the West and Iran, but when it comes to aerospace technology Tehran’s future looks brighter.
Having already taken the lead in the Middle East as the first country to acquire space-related technology, Iran set yet another a record in the region and become the first state to send living organisms into outer space on February 3, 2010.
The successful launch of the Explorer (Kavoshgar) III satellite carrier opened a new chapter in the region’s aerospace space field.
The Explorer (Kavoshgar) III, equipped an experimental capsule, transfers telemetric data, live pictures and flight and environmental analysis data. Live video transmission and the mini-environmental lab enable Iranian scientists to study the biological capsule — which carries a rat, two turtles and worms.
On top of that, Tehran inaugurated a satellite image processing center and a 3-D Laboratory, which can simulate satellites movements in real time.
In February 2008, Iran launched the Explorer (Kavoshgar) I into space. The Explorer (Kavoshgar) II, which carried a space-lab and a restoration system, was launched in November the same year. The Explorer (Kavoshgar) III is an updated version of the previous models.
Following the successful launch of the Explorer (Kavoshgar) III, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, ” We have two more steps to take before we reach the point of no return — the point which [if we manage to reach] we have to declare that all of space can be conquered by Iranian scientists.”
“God willing our scientists would be personally present in the outer space to observe the skies from there,” Ahmadinejad said.
In February 2009, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Reza Taqipour, who was head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization at the time, announced that Tehran was working on sending astronauts into space.
“China and India managed to send astronauts to space in programs which took approximately 15 years. We see ourselves taking the same path, but we hope to reach that goal in a shorter period,” he added.
According to Taqipour, the Iranian Aerospace Organization had drawn up a comprehensive plan to carry out a successful manned space mission by 2021.
Now, while Iran is pushing barriers and making achievements in the space industry, US President Barack Obama’s 2011 NASA budget request will effectively terminate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s manned space flight program.
NASA was planning to send astronauts to the moon by 2020. However, the proposed budget would terminate the Constellation Program, which would have replaced the retiring Space Shuttles with a new crew vehicle, as well as building the new launchers required to send astronauts to the moon and Mars.
This would leave space leadership to China and Russia to be joined by Iran, should the country manage to achieve its stated goals.
Upon the lunch of the Explorer (Kavoshgar) III, the Iranian Minister of Communications and Information Technology asserted that the country “entered the space arena with steadfast will, and the foreseeable future we will become one of the premiers in the space industry.”
The Islamic Republic has already taken steps to bring aerospace technology to its universities by offering relevant courses and supplying faculties with required equipment.
Students of the Science and Industry University have already designed and manufactured an experimental communications satellite dubbed Ya Mahdi.
Students of Amir Kabir University of Technology have also designed and developed a satellite called AUT SAT, in cooperation with the Iranian Aerospace Organization.
The Iranian Aerospace Organization is now in close cooperation with seven universities in the country.
Bringing the space technology to domestic universities has laid the groundwork for the Islamic Republic to venture upon manufacturing most of the parts used in its space rockets and satellites inside Iran.
Such a move, according to the Iranian president, has “rendered sanctions imposed on the country by the West useless.” Ahmadinejad also believes that domesticating the production of part would “increase the reliability” of the final product.
“There are few countries in the universe capable of addressing the needs of all of their space-related technologies. However, thanks to the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, Iran has reached self-sufficiency in this regard,” President Ahmadinejad said on February 3.