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Official Space Research Institutes

Parviz Tarikhi ( is a space science and technology researcher and specialist majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) since 2000, including as Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. From 2001 to 2007 he chaired the Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004 to 2007 he led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran. Write to him through e-mail at the address

On December 10, 2003 the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IR Iran) approved a law on the establishment of a new regime for country’s outer space issues which received the final approval of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran on 18 June 2005. The state officially took the first step in implementing the new law on February 1, 2004 by assigning the first President of a new establishment named the Iran Space Agency (ISA).  Affiliated to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), ISA was organized in the form of an autonomous organization mandated to follow and implement the strategies authorized by the Space Supreme Council (SSC).[1] Following the dissolution of SSC in August 2007 and to continue further development and implementation of the statutes and bylaws of ISA, the Council of Ministers of IR Iran approved amendments to the existing law on June 15, 2008 that led to final approval of the Guardian Council on July 2, 2008.These actions were believed to be a long and practical step forward not only towards concentrating Iran’s efforts in advancing relevant science and technology for effective use of outer space for peaceful purposes but also to enhance the country’s cooperation at the international level for such the important purposes. According to the new approval the president of the Agency being the Deputy Minister of CIT was assumed to be the highest authority responsible for implementing the affairs, protecting the rights, interests and assets of the Agency.[2]

The new statute that was initiated based on the proposal of the MICT and in line with the Article 44 of the Constitution of IR Iran aimed to render the non-sovereignty tasks to the private sector and centralize the sovereignty tasks that were being carried out in different specific organizations earlier.[3] Based on the statute, implementing legal tasks, study, research, engineering and operating in the field of space service technologies, remote sensing and strengthening the communications and space technology networks in and out of the country as well as the sovereignty tasks of the former Iranian Remote Sensing Center (IRSC) and MCIT was put on ISA. In addition to above-said functions, other tasks of ISA included formulating country’s space sector programs, study for policy making in designing, manufacturing, launching and using of the research and national satellites and the control centers, planning to conduct and develop of the peaceful uses of outer space and space technology, strengthening the national, regional and international communication networks by the state, cooperative and private sectors.[4] Almost all of the mentioned activities required research and knowledge that was expected to be secured and provided by the research entities affiliated to the space agency. That is why ISA has been considering establishing the space research institutes or annexing the existing institutes to the agency with high priority.

In this connection following the approval of the second statute of ISA in July 2008, the agency has hosted the Space Research Institute (SRI) since then.

Space Research Institute (SRI)

SRI was established on October 21, 2007 based on the authorization of the Council for Higher Education Development to comply the research requirements of the country in space technologies. Its objectives includes, (i) conducting mission-oriented activities in the development of space research and accessing to the modern space science and technology to turn into a pioneering space research institute in the country; (ii) providing the appropriate ground for the advancement of relevant research activities; and (iii) commercializing the outcomes of the space research.[5] The missions provisioned for SRI is as follows:

• studying and identifying the research requirements to launch and transfer of space technologies;

• performing basic, applied and developmental research projects for realizing the objectives of the institute; • providing required facilities and possibilities for the relevant research activities;

• conducting research cooperation with universities, research institutes, governmental and non-governmental scientific and industrial active centers in and out of the country in order to improve the quality of research activities in space science and technology in line with the general national policies taking into account the related regulations;

• marketing the scientific and research outcomes of the institute based on the related rules and regulations;

• publishing journals, scientific books and tutorial pamphlets as well as producing software and computer programs in line with the objectives of the institute based on the related rules and regulations;

• organizing scientific symposia and presenting the outcomes of its research through the workshops based on the related rules and regulations.

Situated in Tehran, the Directorate of SRI is comprised of the Board of Trustees, Director of the institute and a Research Council. SRI is reportedly one of the active centers for designing, manufacturing and test of satellite projects in the country. The institute is currently involved in few remote sensing and telecommunications satellite projects as follows:

Zohreh Satellite Project; which is a project for manufacturing a satellite to meet country’s telecommunication and Internet needs of the 1970s and was expected to be the first satellite developed in the country.[6]

Mesbah-2 Satellite Project; which is defined in continuation of the Mesbah Project [7] and with the aim to design, manufacture and test of satellites inland.[8]

-Pars-2 Satellite Project; which is a project to design, manufacture and launch an advanced medium resolution and stereo-imaging multi-spectral remote sensing satellite to comply the increasing needs of the great community of remote sensing users in and out of the country.[9]

Currently exceeding to 200 the employees of SRI are mainly the staff of the Zohreh and Mesbah satellite projects which were formerly active for many years in MCIT and the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST) affiliated to the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology respectively.

Following the annexation of ISA to Iran’s Presidency Institution that was put in force by the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, two other research institutes, the Aerospace Research Institute (ARI) and Engineering Research Institute (ERI) joined the space agency.

Aerospace Research Institute (ARI)

Founded in 2000 under the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology the Aerospace Research Institute (ARI) is an academic organization with the aims as follows:

• Recognition and introduction of aerospace technologies, and cooperation with the related organizations and entities for acquisition of the latest aerospace technologies;

• Development and expansion of research in aerospace field attempting to meet the country’s research demands;

• Research cooperation with research and educational organizations of the country with the aim of improving the quality of related research activities.

The Institute has created the necessary environment for research and has provided increasing research facilities for researchers. These facilities consists of parallel processing laboratory, electronic laboratory, virtual reality laboratory, Information Technology Center, Institute’s construction and assembly plants, and a library.[10] ARI has been actively involved in the aerospace research at the national level as well as in establishing links and working relationships with relevant industries. The principal objective of ARI is the identification and introduction of state-of-the-art aerospace and related technologies, and collaboration with organizations in conducting innovative research. ARI is involved in research and analysis of booster rockets, re-entry vehicles, rocket engines and payloads, as well as in other aerospace-related topics like life in space. ARI is organized in different departments including Aeronautical Sciences and Technology, Space Science and Technology, Aerospace Law, Standards and Management, Aerospace Physiology Research Group and a Strategic Aerospace Studies and Future Planning Think Tank. ARI is mainly focused on the aerodynamic design and analysis of launch vehicles. It is capable of estimating aerodynamic coefficients and determination of flow patterns around launch vehicles with various levels of accuracy that are required in different phases of a design process. Planning and conducting wind tunnel tests for validation of analytical and numerical results is also among the institute’s capabilities. It also deals with sounding sub-orbital rockets and their payloads. ARI has carried out several study programs in the field of sounding rocket’s capabilities and applications, their payloads and experiments. As a part of its Department of Aerospace Law, Standards and Management ARI conducts studies on orbital debris. A variety of subjects such as categorization, characteristics, tracking, and laws on orbital debris are worked out there. Mathematical simulation and collision probability functions and hazard analysis are all the prospective subjects that are studied by this department.

In 2008, ARI employed some 65 researchers, 33 organizational members, and 13 PhD students under the scholarship of the institute studying inland and abroad. The institute conducts and carries out several research projects in collaboration with the industry. The aerospace industries of Iran are important contractor of ARI for which the institute has carried out a number of space related projects. One of those projects is the space lab project and life in space which involved the design and prototyping of the Kavoshgar rocket payload. Another project was the evaluation of the standards employed in the design, manufacturing and testing of aerospace systems, funded by the Aerospace Industries Organization. Some other space related projects are: studies on propulsion fundamentals and performance of microsatellites propulsion systems; satellite dynamics software; studies on the cooperation of private companies in space activities such as space commercialization and space tourism; effects of microgravity on bone health of astronauts; analysis and investigation of satellite navigation systems and devising strategies for the development in this area, and publication of a series of books on subjects such as space debris and, medicine and space physiology.[11]

Since its establishment, ARI has been publishing a variety of documents in the form of papers, reports, books and bulletins in line with its research and knowledge promotion tasks. Publishing around 182 papers that reflect the results of the research achievements of the institute, 541 reports on the research plans and activities, exceeding to 25 specialized aerospace books and journals as well as about 100 issues of the aerospace bulletins are worth to be noticed. In addition ARI publishes the quarterly Journal of Space Science and Technology (JSST) in Persian language that is the institute’s specialized aerospace publication.

Moreover, ARI hosts a committee called the Permanent Committee on Space Radiations (PCSR) that is established to justify the country’s major policies on the space radiations in relation with aerospace research activities. Its aim is familiarization, providing the fields of cooperation and interaction between space researchers to raise the knowledge about the destructive space radiations, and policy making for scientific and strategic goals. Three working groups are active under PCSR which are involved with the identification, measurement, detection, estimation of the effects and protecting before the space radiations. PCSR is comprised of 14 scientific, research and industrial organizations which representatives meet monthly. [10]

Engineering Research Institute (ERI)

Agricultural Engineering Research Institute (AERI) that changed its name to the Engineering Research Institute (ERI) after joining to the Iranian Space Agency in September 2010 was established in 1983 under the Ministry of Jihad of Agriculture. The Objectives of the Institute were conducting research on different aspects of agricultural engineering. ERI has been conducting its activities in three groups of control, material and chemical engineering at its headquarters which is situated 16 km west of Tehran. In 1985 the first provincial branch of ERI, Isfahan Engineering Research Institute (IERI), was established in Isfahan. The next provincial branch, Fars Engineering Research Institute (FERI), was established in 1986 in Shiraz and the third provincial branch, East Azerbaijan Engineering Research Institute (EAERI), started its activity in 1987 in Tabriz. FERI in Shiraz is a growing engineering and research center that was established for research and design of process systems for dairy, food and related industries. Within a short period of time FERI have designed, manufactured and commissioned more than 100 projects in various fields of dairy, starch, food and biotechnology. Variety of products made by ERI includes irrigation and drainage facilities, agricultural machinery, food and post harvest products, and research and technical services.

ERI’s main labs that have key role in research are Metallurgy Lab and Chemistry and Polymer Lab. The Metallurgy Lab of ERI has been involved with the mechanical properties, metallographic, quantometric and non-destructive experiments. The Chemistry and Polymer Lab of ERI which is established in 1986 is one of the advanced labs in the analysis and identification of chemical industry, plastic material, foams, adherents, color and resins, composites and their quality control.

The whole number of the staff who work in ERI and its three provincial branches in Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz exceeds to 1200.[12]

While the annexation of ISA to the Presidential Institution still waits for the legislative approval by the Parliament, the research institutes joined to ISA require this approval to be capable of well conducting and implementing their functions. Although the ambitions of the space agency in fulfilling the research activities are valuable and promising, there are still considerable gaps between the capabilities of the agency’s research institutes and the actual requirements. It is because of the fact that the institutes are originally established under the ministries with different aims, policies, and managerial orientations.

After five years since its establishment SRI is still lacking appropriate published material to reflect its achievements. It is the same about the ERI which published a bulletin called the Modern Agricultural Technologies from 1985 to 1988 only as its news periodical. Research is not yet institutionalized in both SRI and ERI despite of the pass of long time since their establishment, while it is considerably promising in the case of ARI in comparison to both SRI and ERI. The revision in employing top and qualified specialized human resources in the institutes is vital. The traditional configuration and structure of the institutes needs informed and actual alteration to be consistent with the research needs of ISA and the country in space science and technology. ERI is not basically a space research institute and with a big number of the staff that is 70.5% of all ISA personnel needs a serious reorganization in the structure, human resources and management so that it could step efficiently in complying the demands and requirement of ISA for space research.

All three research institutes of ISA needs a concentrated policy making in conformity with the needs and requirements of the agency. It could be made possible under the supervision of SSC which its legality depends on the approval of the Parliament to authorize the annexation of ISA to the Presidential Institution and approve an appropriate statute for the agency under which SSC will also play its key role accordingly.


[1] Tarikhi, Parviz, 2008, July 9. New Iranian Space Law, (accessed 30 May 2012)

[2] Tarikhi, Parviz, 2011, March 24. Supreme Council of Space in the Way to Play its Supervisory Role, (accessed 30 May 2012)

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz, 2008, Statutes of the Iranian Space Agency, journal of Space Law, The university of Mississippi School of Law, USA, No.2, Vol.34, pp.487-495.

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz, 2008, July 22. Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency, (accessed 30 May 2012)

[5] Space Research Institute, n.d., (accessed 30 May 2012)

[6] Zohreh Satellite Project, n.d., (accessed 30 May 2012)

[7] Nemets, Alexandr V. and Kurz, Robert W., 2009, The Iranian Space Program and Russian Assistance, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, No. 22, pp. 87–96.

[8] Mesbah-2 Satellite Project, n.d., (accessed 30 May 2012)

[9] Pars-2 Satellite Project, n.d., (accessed 30 May 2012)

[10] Web site of the Aerospace Research Institute (in Persian), n.d., 30 May 2012)

[11] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo, February 2010, Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, pp. 268-270

[12] Web site of the Engineering Research Institute (in Persian), n.d., (accessed 30 May 2012)