• Iran is preparing to launch two new satellites
  • There is no specific date set for the launch
  • The satellite Zafar is an all-Iranian environmental satellite
  • It can take color images of landscapes and create significant maps 

Iran announced Sunday, Jan. 19, that two new satellites have successfully passed pre-launch tests but did not share when they might launch. In a tweet, Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi described the development as an important research step. However, he, too, did not share too much about the expected launch.

This development follows Iran's last attempt to launch a satellite on Aug. 29, 2019, when the rocket exploded on the launch pad at Imam Khomeini Space Center In Semnan Province. Earlier in 2019, the country also tried and failed to send two satellites into orbit.

Just days after the Aug. 29 launch attempt, Washington imposed sanctions on Iran's space agency for, allegedly, developing weapons under the guise of a civilian program. However, Tehran has repeatedly insisted that the space program is mainly for non-military purposes and that the explosion was a result of a technical malfunction.

It is worth noting that Iran's space program runs directly under the nation's defense ministry.

As for the possible launch of the two new satellites, although the specific launch date is so far unknown, Iran typically matches significant launches with the holidays. As it happens, Iran will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution next month, so it is not impossible for the launch to happen around the same time.

All-Iranian Environmental Satellite

According to Iranian media, the satellite called Zafar has an average lifespan of about 18 months and is equipped with four color cameras that allow it to take colored photos of oil reserves as well as natural lands, mines, and forests.

Zafar can also create significant maps such as forest change maps, urban development maps, and agricultural land boundary maps, and help monitor seasonal and permanent lake changes as well as post-disaster demolition in urban areas.

The Zafar environmental research satellite was fully designed and built-in Iran. It was ordered by the Iranian Space Agency and manufactured by the Space research department of Iran University of Science and Technology.

Iran's first satellite Omid (hope) was launched in 2009 and its second, Rasad (observation), was launched in 2011. Its third domestically made satellite, Navid (promise), was successfully launched into orbit in 2012.

According to Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, the country's satellite program is for scientific research and civilian purposes. Picture: Artist illustration of a satellite in space. Pixabay