On April 22, 2020, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said successfully launched the country’s first military satellite, Noor – 1 (“Light”), into space; just a week after a tense encounter with US warships in the Persian Gulf.
This comes after Iran announced new anti-ship missiles with a range of 700 km and drones that have a range of 1,500 km and may be armed with anti-tank missiles.
The IRGC, in a statement, said that the satellite had reached its orbit, 425 km above the earth’s surface and it is the first multi-purpose satellite with application in the defense industry among other areas.
A Qased (“Messenger”) satellite carrier was used to launch the Noor satellite from Iran’s Central Desert (Dasht-e Kavir), without delivering further detail on the technology used.
The launch operation, it noted, was carried out by the IRGC’s Aerospace Division from a launch station situated in the desert plain’s Shahroud region.
The three-stage Qased satellite launcher uses a combination of solid and liquid fuels.
TV footage showed the satellite carrier was inscribed with a verse of the Koran that Muslims often recite when traveling: “Glory to Him who has subjected this to us, as we could never have done it by our own efforts”.
Speaking on the launch, IRGC Chief Commander Major General Hossein SALAMI said, “Today, we can observe the world from space,” congratulating Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali KHAMENEI and the Iranian people on the Islamic establishment’s achievement.
The launch, he said, served as an acknowledgment of the “empowerment approach” that has been advised by the Leader.
General Salami noted that the development showed that the Islamic Republic was capable of securing “remarkable” achievements that warranted international acclaim in whatever area that the country would choose to explore.
“The satellite’s successful launch enhanced new aspects of the Islamic Republic’s defensive might. By God’s grace, the Corps turned into a space force today,” the commander said.
General SALAMI further characterized the achievement as a strategic gain that expanded “the realm of our capabilities.” Setting foot in the space was a “necessity” for a powerful defense force like the IRGC, he added.
The success translates into a “mutation” in the expansion of the country’s intelligence reach and command, General SALAMI said, noting that the orbiter could now come to the country’s assistance in “intelligence warfare.”
SALAMI hailed that all the components of both the satellite and the carrier had been produced indigenously and despite the US’s sanctions.
The launch conveys the message that not only have the sanctions failed to impede Iran’s progress, but have also “turned on the engine propelling the novel technologies that turn us into a great power in the region and on the international stage in the foreseeable future,” the commander said.
Iran has an advanced program that has launched satellites in the past, including joint research projects with Russia, China, and Thailand. Its first breakthrough was Omid, a domestically made satellite that was a major achievement for Tehran’s satellites. It was sent into orbit in 2009 on a homemade missile. Iran launched imaging satellites in 2011 and 2012.
Iran has made several failed attempts to launch satellites in the last months, most recently in February 2020 with the failed launch of the Zafar 1 (“Victory”) communications satellite. The country also experienced two failed launches in 2019, as well as a launchpad rocket explosion and a separate fire that killed three researchers at the Imam KHOMEINI Space Center, where Iran’s civilian space program operates.
Over the next several years, it said, the country was expected to deploy its military space activities towards taking care of its relevant telecommunication purposes, including the promotion of reconnaissance and safe communication capabilities.
The launch took place at a time of high tension with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes and months after Iranian top military commander Qassem SOLEIMANI was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.
The United States argues that such launches by Iran breach United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.
The resolution, which endorsed the nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers, stops short of explicitly barring such activity. Iran says its space programme is peaceful and has dismissed Washington’s call to end its missile programme.
Iran’s Guards have repeatedly warned that U.S. regional bases and its aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within the range of Iranian missiles.
The Revolutionary Guard, which marked its 41st anniversary on April 22, operates its own military infrastructure alongside the country’s regular armed forces and answers directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali KHAMENEI.
Marking the occasion, Ayatollah KHAMENEI expressed his gratitude towards the IRGC for its performance.
IRGC General Mohammad SHIRAZI, the head of the Leader’s Military Office, relayed the congratulatory message of the commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces to General SALAMI, the IRGC’s chief commander. “Convey my regards to the IRGC personnel and their respectable families on the occasion of its founding anniversary,” the message noted. “I extend gratitude to them for their good performance and efforts. My prayers are with them.”
It was not clear whether the country’s government had been aware of plans for the launch. President Hassan ROUHANI gave a 40-minute speech before his Cabinet on April 22 without making any reference to it.
This article was edited using the data from Reuters, AA, Jpost, Deutsche Welle, PressTV, and Irna.
Source of the photo: PressTv.