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Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Manned Space Flight Mission of Iran

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. 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. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 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.

In recent times the idea of sending a human to space is brought up frequently by the top authorities in Iran. In the opening remarks of the 10th Conference of the Iranian Aerospace Society held on 1-3 March 2011 in Tarbiat Modarres University [this university’s main task is the education and breeding the tutors and educators to teach in the universities of Iran] of Tehran believing that the space power [of each country] is realized when it succeeds to send human to space the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), Hamid Fazeli stated that only three countries around the world had prospered to attain this capability. He added that based on the I. R. President’s order a human should be sent to space by 2021 and in this connection the studies and programs for sending human to space and Moon had been started. ‘In the framework of the first Five-Year program of sending human to space we plan to send and retrieve an astronaut to the height of sub-200 kilometres’, he announced. The head of the space agency related the success of the plan for sending human to space to the necessary concentrated financial state supports to the agency. [1]

The background of Iran’s manned space flight program goes to two decades ago. The country revealed its intension for sending a human to space on 21 June 1990 in course of the summit of the presidents of the date of Iran and the Soviet Union. Both the countries agreed to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to the Mir space station. Dissolution of the Soviet Union soon after in 1991 caused the interruption of the agreement. [2] However in November 2005 the authorities of ISA declared a plan for manned space flight and the plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory as well. On 20 August 2008, the president of the space agency announced the country’s plan to launch a manned mission into space within a decade for which the goal was divulged to be in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021. [3]

Iran’s continued intention to benefit the experience and achievements of the avant-garde space faring countries such as the Russian Federation in the framework of joint manned space flights and implementing research projects in space is promising and is the indication of the country’s interest in the international cooperation in space arena that is worth to be strengthened and supported. Such the idea was emphasized as instance during the meeting for celebrating the International Astronaut Day on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the human flight to space that was held at the headquarters of ISA in Tehran on Tuesday 12 April 2011. In the meeting the president of the space agency reiterated readiness of Iran for bilateral cooperation due to the long-term involvement of ISA in the activities of peaceful uses of space technology. As the ad-hoc invitee to that meeting, Alexander Sadovnikov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Iran stated that the cooperation between Iran and Russian Federation in space technology that was started 20 years ago has ever been continued despite of some problems. He added, ‘Iran’s recent successes in the field of scientific space research shows that not only the Iranian astronauts will be sent to space in the near future but also the Iranian space technologies in line with the technologies of other space faring nations will be used.’ He foresaw that the Iranian and Russian astronauts could conduct joint research projects, and that both the countries are interested in establishing a scientific and technical cooperation atmosphere in the field of space free of political considerations. [4, 5] ‘It would not be the matter of my surprise if I witness that someday in the International Space Station the Iranian scientists would work and research along with the scientists of the other nations,’ he pointed out. [6]

The space endeavor of each country in general and the plans for life in space in particular would be of great value and effectiveness if free of the tropism of supremacy in the use of space and the related technologies it is managed to enjoy the goal of exploring the universe, raising the quality of life, prosperity, welfare and the sustainable development of the nation.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Sending Iranian astronaut to sub-200 km orbit, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 1 March 2011, http://isa.ir/components1.php?rQV===AfABkO0hXZUh2YyFWZz9lZ8BUMApDZJRnblJXYw9lZ8BEM1QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 25 April 2011)

[2]Wikipedia: Iranian Space Agency, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Space_Agency (accessed 25 April 2011)

[3] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 306-308

[4] Mehr News archive (Persian Version): The cooperation between Iran and Russia in space science/ Iranians are getting powerful in space science, Tehran, 12 April 2011, http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?pr=s&query=%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%87%20&NewsID=1287242 (accessed 28 April 2011)

[5]RIA NOVOSTI-Russian News & Information Agency (Persian Version): The International Astronaut Day was held in Iran, Moscow, 12 April 2011, http://pe.rian.ru/science/spice/20110412/129077839.html (accessed 25 April 2011)

[6] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The ceremony for celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first human in space, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 12 April 2011, http://isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BkM2QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 28 April 2011)

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Supreme Council of Space in the Way to Play its Supervisory Role

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Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. 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. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 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.

By the inception of annexing Iran’s space administration to the Presidency Institution based on the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, the third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space (SCS) was held on 5 March 2011 with the chairmanship of the President of I.R. Iran and other members of the Council including the Minister of Defense and the Armed Forces Logistics, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Minister of Science, Research and Technology, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA). Emphasizing on the importance of the space technologies and the relevant activities of the country the President of I.R. Iran urged the implementation of space programs and the launches. Using all of the available capacities in the country by the space agency in reaching its goals and fulfilling the major space plans of the country in parallel with the regional and global cooperation in the peaceful uses of space technology was highly considered by the President for which he mandated wide and effective presence and contribution of ISA. The head of ISA in the continuation of the meeting stated that after the annexation of ISA to the Presidency Institution the agency aimed to wholly manage country’s space systems and the related technologies; as a result the revision in the strategies and space plans of the country was mandatory. [1]

Following the approval of the statute of the agency on 11 June 2005 SCS held its first meeting on 19 July 2005 with the chairmanship of S. Muhammad Khatami, I.R. Iran’s President of the date. The second meeting of SCS was held a year later in July 2006 chaired by Mahmud Ahmadinejad. However, it was after 56 months that SCS convened for the third time. The reason for this long-term delay was the fluctuations in the status of the Council. SCS legitimized by the approval of establishing a new regime for space issues in Iran according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed by the Parliament of Iran on 10 December 2003. ISA was then established on 1 February 2004. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran related to the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a council named the ‘Supreme Council of Space’ chaired by the President of the state. The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by SCS, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of SCS at the same time. [2, 3]

ISA continued implementing its tasks and duties under the supervision of SCS until when the state decided to merge the supreme councils relying on the approval of Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of the country.  The ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was established by merging the ‘Council of Science, Research and Technology’ and  11 supreme councils including Information Technology, Communications, Space, Atomic Energy, Communication Media Security, Education and Training, Educational Revolution Logistics, Informatics, Science Applications, Biotechnology, and Standards. However, the new ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was dissolved soon after in February 2008 and its functions were put on the newly set-up of “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet. [4, 5]

Dissolution of SCS urged the revision in the statute of ISA to allow it to act based on the legislations and approved laws and regulations. To this mean the Council of Ministers of I.R. Iran on 15 June 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved on 11 June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on 2 July 2008. The most important change in the statute of 2008 in comparison to the former statute was the cancellation of the supervision of SCS with the leadership of Iran’s President of state. As a result ISA became merely an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that was responsible to report to the relevant Minister. It was actually the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency although the new statute provided ISA with more financial authorization to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals. [6] The new statute moreover authorized ISA to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education; this task was not included in the statute of 2005 of ISA. Also authorizing ISA according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charged the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the state public revenue account. Additionally, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, ISA in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development was authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human sources for the specialized and managerial posts. [7]

In the continuation of above said situation the Parliament of Iran considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal and decided to revive the dissolved councils while the Guardian Council of the Constitution of I.R. Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. By the approval of the Expediency Council on 27 September 2008 the state was mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution. Reviving of SCS raised the need for mandatory change of the statute of ISA. The statute was needed to ratify the relation of the revived SCS with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of ISA in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of SCS. [8] In practice this ratification has not yet taken place however by the recent administrational promotion of ISA the need for setting up a comprehensive statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Parliament of Iran is necessary.

Lack of SCS’s supervision and control for a period of about 4 years practically led to turmoil in functioning of ISA in terms of concentrated and comprehensive policymaking, economic and efficiency caretaking, and implementing the space related plans and programs. In light of the administrational arbitrations offered to ISA legitimately and the considerable budgetary funds which was supplied to the agency by the state, ISA forced to only play the role of a state contractor to commission the academic and non-civilian as well as private sectors for proposing and implementing the space related research and experimental plans almost with similar aims and as of parallel endeavors. As an example the approximately tripled quantitative growth of the Iranian satellites developed after the launch of Omid in comparison to those which planned before it is the outcome of the above-mentioned approach. [9] It is expected that SCS in its new era of life play its high and pivotal role in supervision and control of the national space agency and take into consideration the important items including,

  • Presenting and interpreting of the realistic visions on the use of space and the applications of space technologies according to which the related and efficient policies and strategies will be configured and take shape.
  • Policy making to employ and use of the most efficient and best existing capacities, sources and possibilities throughout the country with a scientific and national supervision
  • Giving high priority to the international exchanges and interactions believing on the reality that space and space technology applications is substantially of international character and nature.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space was held with the presence of Dr. Ahmadinejad, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 6 March 2011,

http://www.isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BUM1QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 18 March 2011)

[2] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 264-268 & 286

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s space program; Riding high for peace and pride, Space Policy International Journal (Elsevier), Issue 3, Volume 25, August 2009, pp. 160-173 (DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2009.05.010).

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz: Is there a Need for New Space Law? Tehran, 9 November 2008, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-is-there-a-need-for-new-space-law/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[5] Tarikhi, Parviz: New Statute for ISA- more confinement or more freedom? Tehran, 11 September 2008, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-new-statute-for-isa-more-confinement-or-more-freedom/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[6] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency Tehran, 22 July 2008, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iranian-cabinet-approves-new-statute-of-the-iranian-space-agency/ (accessed 18 March 2011)

[7] Tarikhi, Parviz: Statutes of Iranian Space Agency (2005 & 2008), Journal of Space Law, USA, Vol. 34, No. 2, winter 2008, 15 pp., December 2008, http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com/features-2/statutes-of-iranian-space-agency-2005-2008/ (accessed 16 March 2011)

[8] Tarikhi, Parviz: More significant role for Iran’s space administration, Karaj, Iran, 11 November 2010, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/more-significant-role-for-iran%e2%80%99s-space-administration/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[9] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran space development; to reach the zenith lets fly altogether as a Simorgh, Karaj, Iran, 7 February 2011, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iran-space-development-to-reach-the-zenith-lets-fly-altogether-as-a-simorgh/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

 

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Iran space development; to reach the zenith lets fly altogether as a Simorgh*

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. 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. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 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.

By the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010 the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) is annexed to Iran’s Presidency Institution, and consequently the activity of ISA under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was concluded after about 7 years.[1] This new administrational promotion is the indication of the significance of Iran’s space endeavor for the government. However, taking necessary actions in conformity with the legal and administrational requirements and obligations, and most importantly setting up a newer statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Iranian Parliament is a must.[2] The new statute like the two previous statutes that was approved in 2005 and 2008 respectively [3] needs to clarify the relation between the space agency and Supreme Council of Space (SCS), which revived by the approval of the Expediency Council on 27 September 2008 [4], and redefine the functions and duties of ISA in the new position based on the aims and mandates of the SCS.

Following this annexation, the efforts have begun by the new authorities of ISA to portray a new configuration for the agency that would be crystalized by ISA’s new organizational chart being prepared for approval. It gives reportedly the highest significance to the technology development and research on the engineering of space systems including satellites, manned space flights, space probes, space-related sciences and ground-based launching platforms. The share for the development of the space technology applications and services is limited more than ever before and the specialized international cooperation as well as space law is not yet lucky enough to receive the priority it deserves based on the global norms. At a glance one dare say it that the agency is intended to be driven inspired by the demands and requirements initiated by the necessities of the sustainable development of the country and the nation. Space technology development disregarding the social needs for the rapid national development and the leap towards the goals designated by the development plans would be expensive and ambitious enough failing to draw the optimism and support of the public.

Since the successful launch of Iran’s first home-made telecommunication satellite Omid with Safir-2, the country’s first domestic Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) on 2 February 2009, Iran has started a new run to jump for designing, manufacturing and putting new satellites in orbit.[5] Although Omid was an experimental satellite with a 90-day mission for taking orbital measurements, the experience and knowledge gained through orbiting and operating it opened the door to set up more sophisticated systems carrying Earth observation apparatus, and communication and research tools.[6,7] Iran has begun practical experiments on life in space by developing a space bio-capsule in line with the plan of the country to send astronauts into space in 15 years. In 2010 Iran developed a more powerful launch vehicle named Simorgh (stands for Phoenix in Persian language) with the mission to carry the heavier satellites into orbit. Simorgh is a multiphase rocket with liquid fuel engines which are capable of putting the satellites up to 100kg to the orbital height of 500km with the speed of 7500m/s.[8,9] In addition to the development of stronger launch vehicle, the country has been witnessing a boom in designing and more or less developing new satellites listed as below.

Navid, a 40-kg cubic research microsatellite developed by the Tehran-based Elm-o-Sanat University (University of Science and Technology) with the Earth observation mission; it will orbit around the globe in an elliptic orbit of the height 375 km at the apogee and 250 km at the perigee.[8]

Tolou, the first domestic remote sensing microsatellite weighing 100kg planned to be launched with Simorgh Launch Vehicle with the mission to acquire the images of the land with 50m resolution; its image products will be applicable for synoptic land mapping, monitoring of water bodies and the environmental disasters, agricultural areas and forests, urban distribution, and cloud coverage observations.[8]

Mesbah-2, the improved version of Mesbah-1 satellite aimed for communications, data store-and-forward and navigation with the coverage area including Europe and America in addition to Iran itself.[8,10,11]

Besharat (stands for ‘Good News’ in Persian language), the satellite which will be developed with the leadership of Iran and jointly with Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and some Arab countries [12]

Fajr, a remote sensing satellite developed by the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) which is expected to be launched with Simorgh Launch Vehicle [10,11]

Rasad-1, a remote sensing micro-satellite that is jointly developed by MODAFL and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology; it is expected to be launched with Simorgh Launch Vehicle.[13]

In addition to the above mentioned satellites there are some other ones about which the authorities talk not in detail but still very briefly. These include, (i) Ghaem and Iransat, two communication satellites that are in the process of development [14], (ii) AUTsat, a microsatellite developed by the Amir-Kabir University of Technology (former Poly-technique University of Tehran) [15], (iii) Muhammad-1, a satellite that is said to be jointly developed with the Islamic countries [16], and (iv) a satellite that Iran plans for manufacturing jointly with 9 other members of the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO). [16]

The quantitative growth of the Iranian satellites developed after the launch of Omid in comparison to those which planned before it is estimated to be tripled approximately. Zohreh, Mesbah-1 and Sina-1 were planned for orbiting before the launch of Omid among which only Sina-1 was launched on 27 October 2005 leaving Iran as the 43rd country in the world to own a satellite in orbit.[17] In recent few years much of the state funds are allocated to persuade the academic and non-civilian sectors to put force jointly or individually on designing satellites and launchers/rockets. Rise in the fund allocation has led to quantitative increase of plans and projects for designing and manufacturing satellites which essentially requires concentrated policymaking, economic and efficiency caretaking of their missions and functions which consequently requires supervision and control of the national space agency under the auspices of SCS. Providing the possibility and benefiting the efficient contribution of all existing genuine and competent talents in terms of management and the science and technology development is the great necessity in this arena.

Iran’s space endeavor is a long lasting effort which background goes to decades ago. The country committed and started using space technology for purely peaceful, humanitarian and development means, which is apparent from the records and historic background.[18] Space technology applications like other strategic technologies are basically of dual use. It is up to us to make a selection, and either pave the way or place limitations and obstacles before each of these applications and orientations. It is more than wise to use such possibilities for the benefit of welfare and wellness of humanity and for its sustained development at the national and global level.[19] In the meantime, it should not be disregarded that the technical and scientific achievements and advancements in the subject field requires a high degree of expertise, capacities, abilities and comprehensive knowledge on it. Highly specialized and talented human resources must emerge in each country, while the attitudes and visions of the leaders and policymakers who also influence and contribute to the pace, progress and developmental objectives of such programs should not be ignored.[20] This latter is a fundamental factor in the progression of the space endeavor in each country including Iran. All legislative, administrational, managerial and executive efforts paly vital role in this connection while each individually or synergistically are affected by the attitudes and visions of the authorities and policymakers which could be hamstring, or encouraging on the contrary. As much as these visions and attitudes tend to realism and open-mindedness, and take the counter-bigotry and free-of-illusion orientation the steps and leaps in space technology development will be more successful and triumphant.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Appointment of the in-charge of the presidency for the Iranian Space Agency by I.R. Iran President, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 19 October 2010, http://www.isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BENzQDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 2 February 2011)

[2] Tarikhi, Parviz: More significant role for Iran’s space administration, Karaj, Iran, 11 November 2010, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/more-significant-role-for-iran%e2%80%99s-space-administration/ (accessed 1 February 2011)

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz: Statutes of Iranian Space Agency (2005 & 2008), Journal of Space Law, USA, Vol. 34, No. 2, winter 2008, 15 pp., December 2008, http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com/features-2/statutes-of-iranian-space-agency-2005-2008/ (accessed 1 February 2011)

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz: Is there a Need for New Space Law? Tehran, 9 November 2008, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-is-there-a-need-for-new-space-law/  (accessed 2 February 2011)

[5] Fars News Agency: Iran Ready to Send 2 Satellites into Space in Future- Tehran, 5 February 2011, http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911161362  (accessed 5 February 2011)

[6] Brown, Peter J.: Iran’s new satellite challenges China, Asia Times Online, Honk Kong, 10 February 2009, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KB10Ak04.html  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[7] Tarikhi, Parviz: Pioneering Hope, Position Magazine, Australia, No.41, June & July 2009

[8] Noja News (Persian Version): Opening of the Space Technology Day and expose of the new generation satellites- Tehran, 3 February 2010, http://www.nojanews.com  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[9] Wikipedia: Iranian Space Agency, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Space_Agency (accessed 3 February 2011)

[10] Mehr News Online (Persian Version): Iran’s new satellite is launched by the end of year- Tehran, 14 January 2011, http://Mehrnews.com  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[11] Mashregh news site (Persian Version): Iran’s space achievements- Tehran, 15 January 2011, http://www.mashreghnews.ir/NSite/FullStory/?Id=24349 (accessed 3 February 2011)

[12] Mehr News Online (Persian Version): Development of Besharat based on the Iranian capabilities- Tehran, 27 November 2010, http://Mehrnews.com  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[13] Mehr News Online (Persian Version): Rasad-1 going to be launched by the end of year- Tehran, 25 September 2010, http://Mehrnews.com  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[14] Mehr News Online (Persian Version): Launch of Rasad-1/Status of Tolou- Tehran, 7 July 2010, http://Mehrnews.com  (accessed 3 February 2011)

[15] Jam-e Jam Online news site (Persian Version): Iran in the progress route of science and technology- Tehran, 10 February 2009, http://JameJamOnline.ir (accessed 3 February 2011)

[16] Jam-e Jam Online news site (Persian Version): Iran envoys astronaut to space by 2020- Tehran, 5 October 2010, http://JameJamOnline.ir (accessed 3 February 2011)

[17] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s Ambitions in Space, Position Magazine, Australia, No.35, June & July 2008

[18] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 254-284

[19] Davenac, Raoul & Nardon, Laurence: Le programme spatial iranien, Actuelles de l’ifri (institut français des relations internationales), Paris, France, mars 2009, http://www.ifri.org/?page=detail-contribution&id=5295&id_provenance=97&lang=fr    (accessed 4 February 2011)

[20] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s space program; Riding high for peace and pride, Space Policy International Journal (Elsevier), Issue 3, Volume 25, August 2009, pp. 160-173 (DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2009.05.010)

* Note: In the Iranian tradition Simorgh is a fabulous bird that flies above the clouds. The word of ‘Simorgh’ in Persian language is also expressed as ‘Si-morgh’ that means ‘thirty-birds’. There is a philosophical narrative about Simorgh and Si-morgh. Once a group of thirty different hungry birds that were flying over a field decided to land and take the seeds on the ground. They were unaware that a hunter had laid a trap for them and as soon as they landed and began to take the seeds the trap was wrapped up and they got caught. Being horrified each bird tried to release itself and flew up in the direction different from others. It was useless and they were unable to escape. The hunter saw them caught in the trap and rushed towards the trap. Time was scarce and the hunter was getting closer to the trap moment by moment, however the birds were flapping the wings to no avail. Finally one of the birds that was wiser than the others suggested that instead of flapping the wings individually and flying in different directions, all the thirty bird try to flap and fly up in one direction. The birds began to do so and altogether lifted the trap with themselves and flew to the sky and go farther and farther out of the reach of hunter. They were a group of thirty birds but unified and in unanimity became a Simorgh and overcame the hunter and removed the trap.

 

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Is there a Need for New Space Law?

parvizParviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.

Following the approval of the Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of IR Iran a “Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology” was established by merging the “Council of Sciences, Research and Technology”, “Supreme Council of Information Technology”, “Supreme Council of Communications”, “Supreme Council of Space”, “Supreme Council of Atomic Energy”, “Supreme Council of Communication Media Security”, “Supreme Council of Education and Training”, “Supreme Council of Educational Revolution Logistics”, “Supreme Council of Informatics”, “Supreme Council of Science Applications”, “Supreme Council of Biotechnology” and “Supreme Council of Standards”. However, the newly established Supreme Council were dissolved soon after in February 2008, which followed by the dissolution of the 12 merged councils. The functions of the Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology were put on the newly set-up called “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet of IR Iran.

Decisions made by the councils which members were usually the members of Cabinet, Parliament and non-governmental organizations as well as the relevant experts, was effectual by the approval of the President of IR Iran however, the State believed that the councils were coining the regulations disregarding the role of the State, while it should be responsible for the approvals of those councils.

Dissolution of the Supreme Council of Space specifically urged the revision in the statute of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) to allow it for functioning according to the legislations and approved laws and regulations. As a result the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on June 15, 2008 passed the amendments to the statute of ISA approved in June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on July 2, 2008. In the new statute the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space on the activities and functions of ISA was cancelled. ISA consequently became an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to report to the related Minister.

The Parliament of IR Iran considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal in continuation and decided to revive the dissolved councils however, the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. According to the Constitution of IR Iran, if the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran object an approval of the Parliament and return it for revision, the Parliament will check it again. In case of dissatisfaction of the Guardian Council, the approval will be offered to the “Assembly for Distinguishing the Prudence of the Regime” for final decision. By the approval of the “Assembly for Distinguishing the Prudence of the Regime” on 27 September 2008 the State is mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution.   

Based on the earlier approvals ISA was mandated to covers and support all the activities in IR Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under leadership of a Supreme Council chaired by the President of IR Iran. The Council’s main goals included, policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related programs of state and private institutions and organizations, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, and identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by the Supreme Council of Space, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was organized.

By reviving of the Supreme Council of Space the need for changing the statute of ISA seems to be mandatory. The statute should ratify the relation of the revived Supreme Council of Space with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of the Agency in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of the Supreme Council of Space.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger, Parviz Tarikhi: Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station Verging into a Space Center

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Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.

Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station that is currently affiliated with the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and officially entitled Mahdasht Space Center is located approximately 65 kilometers west of Tehran with 42 hectares area. The station established in 1972. The activities and development of the station could be chronicled as below, however it should not be ignored that in each period the driving attitudes and visions of the authorities have influenced its progress and development indeed.

Period of 1972-1978: Launch of the United States Earth Resource Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) -which later became Landsat-1- in 1972 actually raised the attention and real interest in remote sensing technology in Iran and is considered as the start point for such the space related activities in the country. Soon after an office for data collection in the Budget and Planning Organization of the date established. Because of rapid developments and progress in the space technologies and remote sensing in particular, Iran was enthusiastically stepping forward in harmony with the global advancements in this connection. As a result, benefiting the supports from the United States of America (USA) Iran decided to proceed for direct acquisition of satellite data. USA therefore complied Iran’s request and it was agreed that Iran supply data to the 33 countries under coverage of Iran’s receiving antenna to be installed. In 1974 a contract was signed between Iran and General Electric Company of USA for installation and conducting a satellite data receiving station.

At the same time, under the Plan for Satellite Data Applications the remote sensing activities officially continued in the National Radio and Television Organization of Iran of the date. Through a feasibility study for site selection, the current site of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station at Mahdasht (formerly named Mard Abad) of Karaj was distinguished suitable for establishing the station for direct satellite data receiving. The installation process began in 1976 and two phases including tracking and data acquisition completed and operationalized by 1978 while three full coverage of Landsat satellite data of Iran was acquired and archived by the station. 

 

According to signed contract between Iran and the US General Electric Company, and based on the global common procedures for satellite data acquisition in USA, Canada and some other countries five phases were planned for set-up in Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station as follows:

  • First Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for tracking the Earth resource satellites and direct data acquisition from those satellites  
  • Second Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for recording and data correction
  • Third Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for analysis and data processing
  • Fourth Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for data management
  • Fifth Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for data printing, proliferation and production

The advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978 urged rapid quit of the US contractor and suspension of the project implementation following which the management and coordination of the plan was put on Iran.    

Period of 1978-1991: Change in the visions and emerging new managerial attitudes because of the Islamic Revolution in Iran put the plans for development of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station and continuation of its activities in a long-lasting ambiguity. The experts, engineers and even the mid-rank managers of the station began the efforts for saving it and justifying the top authorities and decision-makers of the importance and necessity for continuation of the work of such the station and the role that remote sensing and other space technologies can play in informed management and control of the resources and available potentials for development of the country. Management of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station was shifted from the National Radio and Television Organization to the Budget and Planning Organization again. The main and considerable success for the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station in this period that was realized in light of the efforts and work of the experts and engineers of the station is as follows:

·      Operationalizing and conducting the installed facilities for direct data acquisition from meteorological NOAA satellites series

  • Training the experts and technologists of the user organizations and institutes throughout the country for transferring the technology of satellite applications
  • Installation and operationalizing the second, third, fourth and fifth phases of the station for data production and proliferation 

Production and availability of the full coverage of satellite data of Iran acquired and archived by the station provided the possibility for access to the satellite data of Iran for implementing different projects and plans around the country and holding workshops for transferring the knowledge and expertise of satellite data applications.  

Period of 1991-1996: In line with the efforts made by the experts for development of remote sensing technologies throughout the country in the previous period, some commitments officially made for changing the existing situation and transition from the Plan for Satellite Data Applications and further institutionalizing of the remote sensing activities. In 1991 the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IR Iran) passed the law for transferring from the Plan for Satellite Data Applications to the state-run firm of the Iranian Remote Sensing Center (IRSC). According to the approval IRSC became affiliated to the Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephone (MPTT) of the date. The latter changed to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology according to the approval of the Parliament of IR Iran on 10 December 2003.   

Period of 1996-2002: Approval of the law for changing the Plan for Satellite Data Applications to the state-run firm of IRSC caused some legal problems for IRSC in terms of securing its financial sources and inability for developing its plans and programs. The authorities decided to downsize IRSC and confined the activities of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station that finally led to suspension of the activity of the station temporarily. However, before the suspension, the activities of the fifth and first phases including data production and proliferation, and direct data acquisition from meteorological satellites continued in its lowest level.     

Period of 2002-date: Administrational and organizational changes in MPTT and its transition to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology followed by the establishment of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) in February 2004. ISA covered officially, according to its establishment law, all the remote sensing activities throughout the country. Consequently the activation of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station and its revival was highly considered by the authorities. Reconstruction and operationalizing of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station practically began in 2003. In continuation all the active receiving facilities of ISA in Saadat Abad headquarter in north of Tehran translocated gradually to the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. New specialists as well as staff have been employed. Although the antenna for receiving from Landsat has been abandoned, other facilities for receiving from new generation satellites including TERRA-MODIS, IRS and NOAA continues and the plans for receiving from other satellites is in the way. This all is in line with the plans for concentrating the remote sensing activities of ISA in Mahdasht Station and developing it to become the Mahdasht Space Center in the near future. The site will comprise of the most comprehensive and multi-task ground space complexes, laboratories as well as work, living and leisure facilities for the Iran’s space science and technology specialists, scientists and officials.

 

 

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: New Statute for ISA: more confinement or more freedom?

Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.

The Iranian Space Agency (ISA) was established on February 1, 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on December 10, 2003 by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which received the approval of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran on June 18, 2005. The Guardian Council’s main task is monitoring and control of the consistency of passed laws by the Parliament with the Islamic laws and regulations.

Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in IR Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by the President of IR Iran. The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by the Council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time.

ISA continued implementing its tasks and duties under supervision of the Supreme Council of Space until when the government decided to merge the supreme councils according to the approval of Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of the country. The “Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology” was established by merging the “Council of Sciences, Research and Technology”, “Supreme Council of Information Technology”, “Supreme Council of Communications”, “Supreme Council of Space”, “Supreme Council of Atomic Energy”, “Supreme Council of Communication Media Security ”, “Supreme Council of Education and Training”, “Supreme Council of Educational Revolution Logistics”, “Supreme Council of Informatics”, “Supreme Council of Science Applications”, “Supreme Council of Biotechnology” and “Supreme Council of Standards”. However, the new Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology was dissolved soon after in February 2008 and its functions were put on the newly set-up “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet of IR Iran.

Change in the status of the Supreme Council of Space urged the revision in the statute of the Iranian Space Agency to allow it for functioning according the legislations and approved laws and regulations. In this connection the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on June 15, 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved in June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on July 2, 2008.

The most important change in the new statute in comparison to the former one is that the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space with the leadership of the President of IR Iran has been cancelled. As a result the Agency is only an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that reports to the related Minister. It is indeed the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency albeit the new statue provides the Agency with more financial authorization to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals. The new statue moreover authorizes ISA to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education. This task was not included in the older statute of ISA approved in June 2005. Also authorizing the Iranian Space Agency according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charges the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the state public revenue account. Furthermore, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, ISA in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development is authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human resources for the specialized and managerial positions.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: International Cooperation, Vital for Iran’s Space Program

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Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.

Iran’s space program is advancing expeditiously. It is mainly backed by the available potentials and scientific and technical expertise that is gained in course of the decades of work and enthusiasm. As one of the founding members of COPUOS in 1958, Iran joined the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) thirty-eight years ago in 1970 and also involved in installation and use of the Standard A Station in Asad-abad, Hamedan. However, it was the launch of United States ERTS -which later became Landsat-1- in 1972 that indeed spurred real interest in remote sensing and space technologies in the country. Iran built a facility at Mahdasht, 65 kilometers west of Tehran, to obtain remote sensing imagery from the satellite. Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station was considered as one of the major few sites around the world for data acquisition from Landsat. It is indeed a reality that establishment of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station for Landsat data acquisition was the first cooperation program between USA and Iran on space technology. Almost all of the old employees of the Iranian Remote Sensing Center (IRSC), the majority of them are presently retired, remember the time when they were very happy and proud of working in a center which functions and activities was unique around the world and was limited to only few sites.

The IRSC operated the facility. It was established to collect, process, and distribute relevant imagery products to users throughout the country for resource planning and management. Over the years it supplied data to assist in identifying areas for development. It enabled scientists to identify areas prone to earthquakes, floods, landslides and other natural disasters and threats. The center was used to investigate greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the large urban areas, and to monitor wetlands, inland water basins and the environment of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

In February 2004, the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) was established, with a mandate for all civilian applications of space science and technology. That was a long and practical step forward not only towards concentrating the country’s efforts in advancing relevant science and technology in effective use of outer space for peaceful purposes but also to enhance the cooperation at the international level for this very well deserved purpose. Since then the activities and functions of IRSC has been covered by the newly established ISA.

Promoting the applications of space science and technology for peaceful purposes is both a vital part of Iran’s current plan and very essential part of its strategy. This includes close attention to the important concepts such as public awareness, capacity building, research and exchange of experience simultaneous with the expansion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in regional and global levels. In addition to Iran’s efforts towards such activities the need to expand national capabilities in application of technology is always felt. This expansion has been recognized in the country’s mid and long-term plans leading to emergence of Earth observation and satellite manufacturing industry in Iran. In light of continuous capacity building and development of expert human resources and scientists in recent few decades development of Omid, Sina-1, Mesbah, SMMS, Pars (Sina-2), Sepehr and ZS4 are the practical achievements for the country. Sina-1 is the only operational Iranian satellite in orbit that is the result of bilateral cooperation between Iran and the Russian Federation, while Omid is considered the country’s indigenous satellite planned to be launched in the near future.

In addition to space segment, Iran has been developing throughout the country its ground segments and facilities for communications and data acquisition since long ago. Boomhen, Asadabad and Isfahan are the ground stations established mainly for communication purposes while the old Mahdasht Ground Receiving Station which mission was receiving data from Landsat three decades earlier is being developed to become the Mahdasht Space Center in the future. Other ground stations have also been established for receiving remote sensing data managed and controlled by the private sector and universities.

“According to the Fourth Five-Year Development Plan of the country [2005-2010] US$422 million is allocated for space science and technology development,” says Muhammad Suleimani, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “Space science and technology could lead to facilitate and accelerate communications, saving expenses, time and increasing the efficiency, and forecasting and mitigating damages caused by disasters”, he adds, and continues, “Iranian government in its 10-year plan aims at providing the software and hardware and creating the infrastructure for attaining the capability and capacity in design, manufacturing, test, launch, operationalizing and control of the satellites. Increasing public awareness, training and education of expert human resources, research on new technologies, benefiting the domestic potentials and developing the international cooperation are the strategies of the plan in space domain”.

ISA since its establishment has given the highest priority to the international cooperation that is in continuation of the country’s policy for active international cooperation in space applications since few decades earlier. It has been used as a vehicle for Iran’s diplomatic engagement with the world community. ISA used its position on the UN’s Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to contribute to the third UN International Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE-III). Iranian officials have chaired an action team on the development of a worldwide comprehensive strategy for environmental monitoring and taken part in the development of the UN Space-based Platform for Disaster Management (SPIDER) locally. At a regional level, Iran actively cooperates with the UN Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and in particular with the Regional Program on Space Technology Applications (RESAP). Cooperative plan for the establishment of a Center for Informed Space-based Disaster Management and an affiliated research center have been advanced.

The country is a member of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) under the initiative of the Multilateral Cooperation on Space Technology Applications in Asia and the Pacific (AP-MCSTA). It also provides funding for the organization, along with China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh, Mongolia and Peru.

Investing in space is expensive. It can only be justified in Iran since all aspects of the country’s space program are integrated into the social, economic, educational, technical and political life of the nation. Stepping forward in this important way requires international cooperation and collaboration as the main requisite for the success of such the endeavor.

GUEST BLOGGER Parviz Tarikhi: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency

Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.

Today, 22 July 2008, the Iranian media widely reflected the news about the notification of the new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency by Dr. Parviz Davoodi, the First Deputy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Based on the proposal of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and in line with Article 44 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and following the pass of the law by the Guardian Council of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 2 July 2008, with the aim to render the none-sovereignty tasks to the private sector, and centralizing the sovereignty tasks that were being carried out in different specific organizations earlier, the Cabinet of the Islamic Republic of Iran approved the new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency. Based on the new 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 inside and outside of the country as well as the sovereignty tasks of the former Iranian Remote Sensing Center and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology will be undertaken by the Iranian Space Agency.

According to the new Statute, the Iranian Space Agency as a legal entity is a financially independent state foundation affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and will be managed based on its specific financial and trade laws and regulations in the framework of the laws and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In addition to study and research in the field of space service technologies and integration of the sovereignty tasks of the former Iranian Remote Sensing Center and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology other tasks of the Agency includes formulating country’s space sector programs, study for policy making in designing, manufacturing, launching and using research satellites, research, design and launch of commercial, scientific and research satellites, and design and manufacturing of the control centers and launch of national satellites, 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.

Moreover, the Iranian Space Agency among its tasks further covers studying the requirements and implementing satellite and other space technology projects, contribution to the implementation of the satellite projects, receiving the approved tariffs for offering the space services and issuing the authorization for the space activities, assessing the competence of none-governmental contractors and advisors for implementing space related executive and research issues, membership and attending related international and regional societies and unions aiming at protecting national interests, management and exploitation of satellite and orbital positions in coordination with responsible bodies, study and planning for securing the requirements of country’s satellite networks for providing satellite services, establishing national archive and centralizing store, classification and updating of space data.

The new Statue authorizes the Iranian space Agency to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education. This task was not included in the older Statute of the Agency approved on 18 June 2005.

Authorizing the Iranian Space Agency according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charges the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the public revenue account (near the General Treasurer).

Furthermore, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, the Iranian Space Agency in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development is authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human resources for the specialized and managerial positions.
The president of the Agency that is the Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology will be appointed by the said Minister and will hold the highest executive position at the Agency. He/she is responsible for well implementing the affairs, protecting the rights, interests and assets of the Agency, and for managing the Agency will have full rights and authorization in the framework of the regulations. He/she will represent the Agency before all legal authorities and real and legal entities with the right to depute the authorization to others.

In general, the new Statue provides the Agency with more authorization financially and administrationally to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities in Iran and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals.

GUEST BLOGGER: Parviz Tarikhi on the New Iranian Space Law

Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) since 2000, including as second vice-chair and rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.
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by Parviz Tarikhi, guest blogger

The important role of space science and technology in the destiny of humankind, as well as its immediate and continuous impact on sustainable development of various aspects of societies, is evident. It is because of this vital reason that Iran joined the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) as one of its first 18 members in 1958. In recent decades this was followed by intensive activities in this field including establishment of research centers and several academic aerospace institutions. However, the increasing demand in this respect was felt by the authorities that led to the final approval of a bill submitted by the Government to the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish a new regime for outer space issues. After necessary evaluation the final approval was issued by the Parliament in the form of new law on 10 December 2003. It received the approval of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 18 June 2005. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran officially took the first step in implementing the new law on 1 February 2004 by assigning the first President of a new establishment named the Iran Space Agency (ISA). The new Agency is now on the way towards establishing its organizational structure. To continue further development and implementation of the statutes and bylaws of the Iranian Space Agency, the Council of Ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran approved amendments to the existing law on 15 June 2008. That was followed by the investigations of the Guardian Council and led to final approval on 2 July 2008.

These actions are believed to be a long and practical step forward not only towards concentrating the country’s efforts in advancing relevant science and technology for effective use of outer space for peaceful purposes but also to enhance Iran’s cooperation at the international level for such important purposes.

ISA authority includes and supports all the activities in the Islamic Republic of Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of the Supreme Council chaired by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The relevant core part of the approved bill is as follows:

“Aiming at applying space technology and peaceful uses of outer space, and protecting national interests and sustainable exploitation of space science and technology for economic, cultural, scientific and technical development of the country, the Space Supreme Council with the leadership of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran is established. The Council’s main goals include,

I. Policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space
II. Policy making in manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites
III. Approving the space related programs of state and private institutions and organizations
IV. Approving long and short-term programs of country’s space sector
V. Promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space
VI. Identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues and clarifying the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the above-mentioned bodies”

To follow and implement the strategies authorized by the Space Supreme Council, the ISA is affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. But it is organized in the form of an autonomous organization. The President of ISA holds the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology. The secretariat of Space Supreme Council is based in the ISA, and the President of the ISA acts as the Secretary and Member of the Space Supreme Council at the same time.

Official Space Research Institutes

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) 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 parviz_tarikhi@hotmail.com.

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.

References:

[1] Tarikhi, Parviz, 2008, July 9. New Iranian Space Law, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-on-the-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, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-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, http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iranian-cabinet-approves-new-statute-of-the-iranian-space-agency/ (accessed 30 May 2012)

[5] Space Research Institute, n.d., http://sri.ac.ir (accessed 30 May 2012)

[6] Zohreh Satellite Project, n.d., http://sri.ac.ir (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., http://sri.ac.ir (accessed 30 May 2012)

[9] Pars-2 Satellite Project, n.d., http://sri.ac.ir (accessed 30 May 2012)

[10] Web site of the Aerospace Research Institute (in Persian), n.d., http://www.ari.ac.ir/(accessed 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., http://www.aeri.ir/Default.aspx (accessed 30 May 2012)