Appointment of new President for the Iranian Space Agency


Appointment of new President for the Iranian Space Agency

July 30, 2008 at 2:34 pm    


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.

Following the notification of the Iranian Space Agency’s newly approved Statute by the State which news was announced by the local media on 22 July 2008, the new President of the Iranian Space Agency took over yesterday on 29 July. The incoming president, Taghi Pour prior to this was holding the position of the Deputy Director General of Iranian Electronics Industries Company (SAIran) affiliated with the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

SAIran is a telecommunications firm that develops the first Iranian indigenous low-orbit research satellite, called Omid (Hope). Omid will fly in near-polar orbit 650 kilometers above the Earth and will pass over Iran six times every 24 hours. It will be the country’s second satellite whereas the first was the Russian-made Sina-1, which was launched on 27 October 2005. By orbiting Sina-1 Iran became the 43rd nation to own a satellite.

Sina-1 was the $15 million, 160 kg, 80 x 130 x 160 cm satellite. It was launched on a Russian Kosmos-3M rocket from Plestesk in Murmansk Province of the Russian Federation, to an altitude of 700 kilometers. The satellite was placed in a sun-synchronous near polar orbit with an inclination of 98.18 degrees and period of 98.64 minutes. It orbits the Earth some 14 times a day. With a three-year lifetime its mission is to monitor natural disasters and observe agricultural trends. It also has a communications function.

Sina-1 offers 50 meters resolution in panchromatic mode with a 50 kilometers swath. The multi-spectral scanning mode has a resolution of 250 meters with a 500 kilometers swath. Although the Russian Omsk’s company Polyot built Sina-1 for Iran in cooperation with SAIran, the country has already developed the necessary infrastructure for its space program. The program reflects country’s intension to prove it can produce advanced technology on its own.

Iran is one of the last Persian Gulf countries to have its own satellites despite the fact that it was the first in the region to pursue a national space program over three decades ago (click here for more details). It first embraced the idea of using space and its technologies for peaceful purposes in 1958, when it joined 17 other countries to establish the United Nations ad-hoc Committee for International Cooperation on Space. This committee later became the Committee of Peaceful Uses of Outer Space while it serves as a forum for information exchange between space-faring nations. It also seeks to encourage the development of national programs to study outer space.

However, it was the launch of ERTS – later became Landsat-1 – in 1972 that spurred real interest in remote sensing. Iran built a facility at Mahdasht, 65 kilometers west of Tehran, to obtain remote sensing imagery from the satellite. The Iranian Remote Sensing Center operated the facility. It was established to collect, process, and distribute relevant imagery products to users throughout the country for resource planning and management.

SAIran was founded in 1972. It is a mix of different manufacturing plants and companies in different parts of the country with years of experience in electronics, optics, electro-optics, communications, computers and semiconductors. It is currently comprises of six subsidiaries and 5,000 experienced personnel including 700 qualified and highly trained engineers in different disciplines. SAIran has developed a high expertise in research and development, which is the technological backbone of the company. The company’s subsidiaries include Shiraz Electronics Industries (SEI), Iran Communications Industries (ICI), Information Systems of Iran (ISIRAN), Electronics Components Industries (ECI),
Iran Electronics Research Center (IERC) and Isfahan Optics Industries (IOI).

In 2004, the Iranian Space Agency was established, with a mandate for all civilian applications of space science and technology. The agency aims at generating programs for the peaceful applications of space technologies that included the satellite and launch vehicle program as well as promotion of the ground segment – the efficient application of space technology. Regional and international cooperation in space is also part of its goals. Promoting applications of space science and technology is a vital part of Iran’s current plans. This includes close attention to capacity building, research and the exchange of experience. It also includes the expansion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation at regional and global levels. 

This is the third president of the Iranian Space Agency that is appointed. The first president, H. Shafti, conducted the Agency from its establishment in February 2004 to 18 October 2005 while the second president, A. Talebzadeh, headed the Agency for 1015 days.  


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