Iran has apparently opened its first space monitoring center in order to track objects passing in orbit overhead. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was at the facility for its inaugural ceremony.
The country’s first space center is located near the town of Delijan, about 125 miles south of capital Tehran. Ahmadinejad explained that the center will allow the country to manage “activities of satellites,” though it can also monitor “very remote space.”
In recent months, Iran has made multiple claims of starting up a space program. The country claimed in January that it sent a monkey into space and back successfully. In February, Ahmadinejad announced he wanted to be the first Iranian in space.
However, space flight is still a ways off for the Middle Eastern nation, which has long pursued space ambitions. Along with putting its own satellite into orbit, the country has said that manned space flight is a goal.
The orbiting satellites would be used for monitoring natural disasters in the earthquake-prone country. But the US and its allies worry that the same technology used for space excursions could also be used to develop long-range missiles.
Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi stated that the new space monitoring center will be for the country’s space-related security only. He added that Iran will share the acquired data with other countries as well. Vahidi said:
“The base is aimed at securing the country’s space facilities and monitoring space objects especially satellites that pass overhead.”
Iran already has nine command and control ground stations for its developing space program. One such facility is located in Syria, the country’s main regional ally. The Delijan center will use radar, electro-optic, and radio tracking for satellites, and likely asteroids as well.
While the space monitoring center is active, it is likely that Iran is still years away from launching its first satellite into orbit — let alone its first manned spaceflight.
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