Iranian Space Program Falls to Earth
Iran made a lot of fuss about its so-called "homegrown" Omid (Hope) satellite, launched during the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Now it looks like it's going to crash back to earth.
A few days ago, Iran's space officials stated in a surprise announcement that the satellite will be ending its "successful" mission around March 25. What they meant to say is that their satellite has gone rogue and cannot be controlled anymore.
This claim of success by Iran's officials was not anticipated because they did not mention the short life span of their pride and joy, which was launched on February 3. Some Iranian websites say that because of Omid's battery life of two months, it was doomed to destruct from the start. Now the question is how that could be possible given that most satellites use solar panels as their basic source of energy production.
The breaking news from Iran came only after the information was released by NASA that the Omid satellite was losing altitude and was about to enter the earth's atmosphere. Omid was placed in a 312-kilometer orbit above the earth, where the optimum apogee for this kind of satellite is around 378 km (the perigee was 245 km). The Iranian bird lost about 29 km in altitude in the first 40 days.
Iranian sources tell Pajamas Media it was because of this revelation by the Americans that Iranian space officials announced the news in a hasty effort to save face, while claiming a huge success and pretending that everything was going according to plan.
Omid was launched from the outskirts of the Iranian deserts, supposedly on a rocket called Safir (Ambassador). But our sources believe that not only was Safir not manufactured by the Islamic Republic of Iran, but that it was, in fact, secretly imported from Russia and assembled to make Ahmadinejad and his government look good, especially so close to the upcoming presidential elections in June.
This would not be the first time that the Islamic government has used Russian technology to launch a domestically assembled satellite into space. In 2005, the Russians lent their expertise to Iran and sent Iran's Sina-1 satellite into outer space. But for Omid, Iran paid an enormous amount of money to claim that the entire program, from manufacturing the launch vehicle and satellite to directing the actual launch, was an Iranian operation.
As a matter of fact, news was leaked by patriotic Iranians at the space agency that an amount of $1 billion was missing from the account of the Iranian Space Agency right after Omid went to orbit. Our sources believe that this money was a huge payoff to the Russians so Iran could claim the full glory by itself. One billion dollars for a toy satellite that came down almost as fast as it went up. A real satellite at a fraction of the cost could have served the same purpose for an average of 15 to 20 years and with a lot more capability.
News about Omid was all over the government-run media at the time of its launch and Iran gloated constantly about becoming a member of the exclusive space club for days. But since the news about the satellite coming down has hit the fan, they have been have walked a lot softer -- probably because they did not want to damage the Norooz (Iranian New Year) celebration, which arrived with the first moment of spring on March 20.