Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Manned Space Flight Mission of Iran

May 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) 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 led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran.

In recent times the idea of sending a human to space is brought up frequently by the top authorities in Iran. In the opening remarks of the 10th Conference of the Iranian Aerospace Society held on 1-3 March 2011 in Tarbiat Modarres University [this university’s main task is the education and breeding the tutors and educators to teach in the universities of Iran] of Tehran believing that the space power [of each country] is realized when it succeeds to send human to space the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), Hamid Fazeli stated that only three countries around the world had prospered to attain this capability. He added that based on the I. R. President’s order a human should be sent to space by 2021 and in this connection the studies and programs for sending human to space and Moon had been started. ‘In the framework of the first Five-Year program of sending human to space we plan to send and retrieve an astronaut to the height of sub-200 kilometres’, he announced. The head of the space agency related the success of the plan for sending human to space to the necessary concentrated financial state supports to the agency. [1]

The background of Iran’s manned space flight program goes to two decades ago. The country revealed its intension for sending a human to space on 21 June 1990 in course of the summit of the presidents of the date of Iran and the Soviet Union. Both the countries agreed to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to the Mir space station. Dissolution of the Soviet Union soon after in 1991 caused the interruption of the agreement. [2] However in November 2005 the authorities of ISA declared a plan for manned space flight and the plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory as well. On 20 August 2008, the president of the space agency announced the country’s plan to launch a manned mission into space within a decade for which the goal was divulged to be in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021. [3]

Iran’s continued intention to benefit the experience and achievements of the avant-garde space faring countries such as the Russian Federation in the framework of joint manned space flights and implementing research projects in space is promising and is the indication of the country’s interest in the international cooperation in space arena that is worth to be strengthened and supported. Such the idea was emphasized as instance during the meeting for celebrating the International Astronaut Day on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the human flight to space that was held at the headquarters of ISA in Tehran on Tuesday 12 April 2011. In the meeting the president of the space agency reiterated readiness of Iran for bilateral cooperation due to the long-term involvement of ISA in the activities of peaceful uses of space technology. As the ad-hoc invitee to that meeting, Alexander Sadovnikov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Iran stated that the cooperation between Iran and Russian Federation in space technology that was started 20 years ago has ever been continued despite of some problems. He added, ‘Iran’s recent successes in the field of scientific space research shows that not only the Iranian astronauts will be sent to space in the near future but also the Iranian space technologies in line with the technologies of other space faring nations will be used.’ He foresaw that the Iranian and Russian astronauts could conduct joint research projects, and that both the countries are interested in establishing a scientific and technical cooperation atmosphere in the field of space free of political considerations. [4, 5] ‘It would not be the matter of my surprise if I witness that someday in the International Space Station the Iranian scientists would work and research along with the scientists of the other nations,’ he pointed out. [6]

The space endeavor of each country in general and the plans for life in space in particular would be of great value and effectiveness if free of the tropism of supremacy in the use of space and the related technologies it is managed to enjoy the goal of exploring the universe, raising the quality of life, prosperity, welfare and the sustainable development of the nation.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Sending Iranian astronaut to sub-200 km orbit, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 1 March 2011, http://isa.ir/components1.php?rQV===AfABkO0hXZUh2YyFWZz9lZ8BUMApDZJRnblJXYw9lZ8BEM1QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 25 April 2011)

[2]Wikipedia: Iranian Space Agency, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Space_Agency (accessed 25 April 2011)

[3] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 306-308

[4] Mehr News archive (Persian Version): The cooperation between Iran and Russia in space science/ Iranians are getting powerful in space science, Tehran, 12 April 2011, http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?pr=s&query=%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%87%20&NewsID=1287242 (accessed 28 April 2011)

[5]RIA NOVOSTI-Russian News & Information Agency (Persian Version): The International Astronaut Day was held in Iran, Moscow, 12 April 2011, http://pe.rian.ru/science/spice/20110412/129077839.html (accessed 25 April 2011)

[6] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The ceremony for celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first human in space, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 12 April 2011, http://isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BkM2QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 28 April 2011)

Guest Blogger, Peter J. Brown: Satellite Dishes are Chattering Away in Pakistan

May 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

Peter J. Brown is a Maine-based freelance writer who has specialized in satellite technology for more than two decades. He is a former senior multimedia editor for “Via Satellite” magazine. His articles about the TV industry’s migration to digital technology and various satellite newsgathering applications appeared in “Broadcasting & Cable” and “TV Technology” magazines, too. He has written about the role of satellites in major disasters for “Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness”, a journal of the American Medical Association, among other publications. His coverage of Asian-related satellite developments has appeared in “Asia Times Online” as well as “Japan Security Watch”.

The satellite dimension of the entire Bin Laden affair is complex indeed, and the analysis of same is ongoing. This involves much more than the role of the real-time satellite surveillance and communications in the overall command and control of the U.S. raid on the Bin Laden compound which included multiple live feeds back to the White House and the Pentagon.

With more emphasis now being placed on the Bin Laden compound as a command center, the earlier placement of satellite downlinks within the compound itself takes on added importance, especially since the release of a video showing Bin Laden watching satellite TV.

Regarding the actual satellite dishes installed there, early press reports by Reuters and others mentioned a single satellite dish because the big dish could clearly spotted, and the smaller one(s) were missed entirely. Many overhead photos of the compound omit the smaller one(s) as well.

Later, the satellite dish profile of this compound was changed. For example, two dishes can be seen here .

Notice the intentional fudging when it comes to the actual number of dishes present. This writer is proceeding on the basis that only two dishes were installed there, but there are reports that suggest that more were in place. While these might all be receive – only devices, the smaller dish(es) might well be two-way Internet capable and perhaps even satellite phone-capable model(s). Until we know more for sure, the fact that the much smaller one(s) may have been purposefully concealed in particular should not be overlooked.

Keep in mind that in the past few days, Pakistani authorities took steps to suspend satellite uplinking activities by several foreign news organizations. Here is an excerpt from a news article published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011 –

“After issuing show-cause notices, Pemra (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) suspended uplink facility of Fox News, NBC News, CNN, CNS, IBN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Voice of America and Sky News for violating Section 31 of the Pemra Act of 2007.

“According to the Section 31 of the act, no satellite uplink could be established “without a valid teleport or satellite TV licence from the authority (Pemra); The authority may…issue permission in writing to any party to carry out temporary uplinking (facility) from a ground transmission facility to a satellite…to transmit any programme within or outside Pakistan.” “The immediate suspension of signals of these international news channels has been made to preserve Pemra rules,” said (Information Minister Firdous Aashiq Awan).

“They were violating Pemra rules, so we suspended their transmissions after conducting internal inquiries against them,” she added. These channels, Awan said, had been asked to submit explanations of their inappropriate behaviour within a few days. Pemra issues temporary uplinking permission for live coverage from Pakistan for a specific event and time. (See full article at – http://tribune.com.pk/story/164300/satellite-uplink-rights-of-bbc-cnn- suspended/ on 8 May 2011)

We mention this crackdown because it raises the question as to whether or not two-way satellite equipment in place in the compound was licensed or not – that is, if any two-way satellite equipment was actually in place in the compound.

This discussion is also relevant given that the spotlight is now shining on the CIA’s prolonged surveillance operations from a fixed location nearby the Bin Laden compound. Here again, Pakistan may be wondering it its rules and regulations concerning satellite uplinks might have been violated. Or perhaps the sustained use of covert satellite uplinks by U.S. agents operating inside Pakistan is not something that concerns the Pakistani government at all due to some prior agreement with the U.S.

The idea that covert uplinks might be disguised to look like satellite TV reception equipment should not come as a surprise.

And what has happened to this equipment now? Is it still there? Has any of this satellite equipment mysteriously disappeared? After all, it is not unusual for satellite equipment to be seized as part of an investigation. For example, this was the case during a raid of one apartment in a suburb of Toronto. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived there shortly after 9/11 and officers could be observed in plain sight as they removed satellite gear from the balcony according to one reporter at the scene. The RCMP subsequently said nothing about this equipment.

Another possibility to keep in mind is that perhaps the big dish in the Bin Laden compound was used to signal others outside the compound not via electronic means or via satellite, but simply by pointing the dish in a particular direction or elevating it to a certain angle.  This has happened before, too.

In terms of these and other issues, there is much to digest in terms of what all these satellite dishes in Pakistan are telling us both from a legal standpoint as well as from an operational perspective.

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Supreme Council of Space in the Way to Play its Supervisory Role

March 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) 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 led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran.

By the inception of annexing Iran’s space administration to the Presidency Institution based on the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, the third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space (SCS) was held on 5 March 2011 with the chairmanship of the President of I.R. Iran and other members of the Council including the Minister of Defense and the Armed Forces Logistics, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Minister of Science, Research and Technology, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA). Emphasizing on the importance of the space technologies and the relevant activities of the country the President of I.R. Iran urged the implementation of space programs and the launches. Using all of the available capacities in the country by the space agency in reaching its goals and fulfilling the major space plans of the country in parallel with the regional and global cooperation in the peaceful uses of space technology was highly considered by the President for which he mandated wide and effective presence and contribution of ISA. The head of ISA in the continuation of the meeting stated that after the annexation of ISA to the Presidency Institution the agency aimed to wholly manage country’s space systems and the related technologies; as a result the revision in the strategies and space plans of the country was mandatory. [1]

Following the approval of the statute of the agency on 11 June 2005 SCS held its first meeting on 19 July 2005 with the chairmanship of S. Muhammad Khatami, I.R. Iran’s President of the date. The second meeting of SCS was held a year later in July 2006 chaired by Mahmud Ahmadinejad. However, it was after 56 months that SCS convened for the third time. The reason for this long-term delay was the fluctuations in the status of the Council. SCS legitimized by the approval of establishing a new regime for space issues in Iran according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed by the Parliament of Iran on 10 December 2003. ISA was then established on 1 February 2004. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran related to the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a council named the ‘Supreme Council of Space’ chaired by the President of the state. The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by SCS, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of SCS at the same time. [2, 3]

ISA continued implementing its tasks and duties under the supervision of SCS until when the state decided to merge the supreme councils relying on the approval of Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of the country.  The ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was established by merging the ‘Council of Science, Research and Technology’ and  11 supreme councils including Information Technology, Communications, Space, Atomic Energy, Communication Media Security, Education and Training, Educational Revolution Logistics, Informatics, Science Applications, Biotechnology, and Standards. However, the new ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was dissolved soon after in February 2008 and its functions were put on the newly set-up of “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet. [4, 5]

Dissolution of SCS urged the revision in the statute of ISA to allow it to act based on the legislations and approved laws and regulations. To this mean the Council of Ministers of I.R. Iran on 15 June 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved on 11 June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on 2 July 2008. The most important change in the statute of 2008 in comparison to the former statute was the cancellation of the supervision of SCS with the leadership of Iran’s President of state. As a result ISA became merely an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that was responsible to report to the relevant Minister. It was actually the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency although the new statute provided ISA with more financial authorization to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals. [6] The new statute moreover authorized ISA to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education; this task was not included in the statute of 2005 of ISA. Also authorizing ISA according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charged the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the state public revenue account. Additionally, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, ISA in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development was authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human sources for the specialized and managerial posts. [7]

In the continuation of above said situation the Parliament of Iran considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal and decided to revive the dissolved councils while the Guardian Council of the Constitution of I.R. Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. By the approval of the Expediency Council on 27 September 2008 the state was mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution. Reviving of SCS raised the need for mandatory change of the statute of ISA. The statute was needed to ratify the relation of the revived SCS with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of ISA in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of SCS. [8] In practice this ratification has not yet taken place however by the recent administrational promotion of ISA the need for setting up a comprehensive statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Parliament of Iran is necessary.

Lack of SCS’s supervision and control for a period of about 4 years practically led to turmoil in functioning of ISA in terms of concentrated and comprehensive policymaking, economic and efficiency caretaking, and implementing the space related plans and programs. In light of the administrational arbitrations offered to ISA legitimately and the considerable budgetary funds which was supplied to the agency by the state, ISA forced to only play the role of a state contractor to commission the academic and non-civilian as well as private sectors for proposing and implementing the space related research and experimental plans almost with similar aims and as of parallel endeavors. As an example the approximately tripled quantitative growth of the Iranian satellites developed after the launch of Omid in comparison to those which planned before it is the outcome of the above-mentioned approach. [9] It is expected that SCS in its new era of life play its high and pivotal role in supervision and control of the national space agency and take into consideration the important items including,

  • Presenting and interpreting of the realistic visions on the use of space and the applications of space technologies according to which the related and efficient policies and strategies will be configured and take shape.
  • Policy making to employ and use of the most efficient and best existing capacities, sources and possibilities throughout the country with a scientific and national supervision
  • Giving high priority to the international exchanges and interactions believing on the reality that space and space technology applications is substantially of international character and nature.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space was held with the presence of Dr. Ahmadinejad, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 6 March 2011,

http://www.isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BUM1QDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ (accessed 18 March 2011)

[2] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 264-268 & 286

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s space program; Riding high for peace and pride, Space Policy International Journal (Elsevier), Issue 3, Volume 25, August 2009, pp. 160-173 (DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2009.05.010).

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz: Is there a Need for New Space Law? Tehran, 9 November 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-is-there-a-need-for-new-space-law/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[5] Tarikhi, Parviz: New Statute for ISA- more confinement or more freedom? Tehran, 11 September 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-new-statute-for-isa-more-confinement-or-more-freedom/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[6] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency Tehran, 22 July 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iranian-cabinet-approves-new-statute-of-the-iranian-space-agency/ (accessed 18 March 2011)

[7] Tarikhi, Parviz: Statutes of Iranian Space Agency (2005 & 2008), Journal of Space Law, USA, Vol. 34, No. 2, winter 2008, 15 pp., December 2008, http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com/features-2/statutes-of-iranian-space-agency-2005-2008/ (accessed 16 March 2011)

[8] Tarikhi, Parviz: More significant role for Iran’s space administration, Karaj, Iran, 11 November 2010, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/more-significant-role-for-iran%e2%80%99s-space-administration/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

[9] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran space development; to reach the zenith lets fly altogether as a Simorgh, Karaj, Iran, 7 February 2011, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iran-space-development-to-reach-the-zenith-lets-fly-altogether-as-a-simorgh/ (accessed 17 March 2011)

 

More significant role for Iran’s space administration

November 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

Parviz Tarikhi (http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com) is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) 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 led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran.

Following the annexation of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) to Iran’s Presidency Institution that was put in force by the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, the activity of ISA under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was concluded after about 7 years. The President of I. R. Iran has appointed Dr. Hamid Fazeli as the in-charge of the presidency for ISA who will work as the I.R. Iran President’s Deputy in the meantime.1 This new administrational promotion is the indication of the significance of Iran’s space endeavor for the government.

ISA was established on 1 February 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on 10 December 2003 by the Parliament of Iran. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by Iran’s President. The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by the Council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time. 2, 3

The space agency continued implementing its tasks and duties under the supervision of the ‘Supreme Council of Space’ until when the government decided to merge the supreme councils according to the approval of Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of the country.  The ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was established by merging the ‘Council of Science, Research and Technology’ and  11 supreme councils including Information Technology, Communications, Space, Atomic Energy, Communication Media Security, Education and Training, Educational Revolution Logistics, Informatics, Science Applications, Biotechnology, and Standards. However, the new ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was dissolved soon after in February 2008 and its functions were put on the newly set-up of “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Iranian Cabinet. 4, 5

Change in the status of the Supreme Council of Space urged the revision in the statute of ISA to allow it for functioning according to the legislations and approved laws and regulations. In this connection the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on 15 June 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved in June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on 2 July 2008. The most important change in the new statute in comparison to the former one was that the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space with the leadership of the President of Iran has been cancelled. As a result ISA became only an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that was responsible to report to the relevant Minister. It was actually the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency although the new statute provided ISA with more financial authorization to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals.6 The new statute moreover authorized ISA to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education. This task was not included in the older statute of ISA approved in June 2005. Also authorizing ISA according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charged the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the state public revenue account. Furthermore, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, ISA in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development was authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human resources for the specialized and managerial positions. 7

The Iranian Parliament considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal in continuation and decided to revive the dissolved councils however the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. By the approval of the Expediency Council on 27 September 2008 the State was mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution. Reviving of the Supreme Council of Space raised the need for mandatory change of the statute of ISA. The statute was needed to ratify the relation of the revived Supreme Council of Space with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of the Agency in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of the Supreme Council of Space. This ratification did not took place in practice however by the recent administrational promotion of ISA the need for setting up a newer statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Iranian Parliament is a must.

Mr. Fazeli is the fifth president of the Iranian Space Agency who is appointed since the establishment of ISA. He holds a PhD degree in Mechanics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Before appointment as the in-charge of the presidency of ISA he was working as the president of the Aerospace Research Institute (ARI) of Iran since February 2009.   ISA’s first president, Mr. S. Hassan Shafti, conducted the Agency from its establishment in February 2004 to 18 October 20052 while the second president, Mr. Ahmad Talebzadeh, headed the Agency by 29 July 2008.8 Mr. Reza Taghipour (currently the Minister of Communications and Information Technology) was the successor of the second president who presided the agency by 22 September 2009.2 He was replaced by Mr. Muhammad Ali Forghani whose presidency lasted by 29 September 2010.

References:

[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Appointment of the in-charge of the  presidency for the Iranian Space Agency by I.R. Iran President, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 19 October 2010,

http://www.isa.ir/components1.php?rQV==wHQxAkOklUZnFWdn5WYMJXZ0VWbhJXYw9lZ8BENzQDQ6QWStVGdp9lZ8BUM4ATMApDZJ52bpR3Yh9lZ  (accessed 29 October 2010)

[2] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 264-268 & 286

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s space program; Riding high for peace and pride, Space Policy International Journal (Elsevier), Issue 3, Volume 25, August 2009, pp. 160-173 (DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2009.05.010).

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz: Is there a Need for New Space Law? Tehran, 9 November 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-is-there-a-need-for-new-space-law/  (accessed 29 October 2010)

[5] Tarikhi, Parviz: New Statute for ISA- more confinement or more freedom? Tehran, 11 September 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-new-statute-for-isa-more-confinement-or-more-freedom/ (accessed 29 October 2010)

[6] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency Tehran, 22 July 2008, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/guest-blogger-parviz-tarikhi-iranian-cabinet-approves-new-statute-of-the-iranian-space-agency/ (accessed 29 October 2010)

[7] Tarikhi, Parviz: Statutes of Iranian Space Agency (2005 & 2008), Journal of Space Law, USA, Vol. 34, No. 2, winter 2008, 15 pp., December 2008, http://parviztarikhi.wordpress.com/features-2/statutes-of-iranian-space-agency-2005-2008/ (accessed 29 October 2010)

[8] Gabrynowicz, Joanne Irene: Mr. Ahmad Talebzadeh appointed Director General, Department of External Relations and Legal Affairs for Asian-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization in Beijing, China, 10 February 2010, https://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/mr-ahmad-talebzadeh-appointed-director-general-department-of-external-relations-and-legal-affairs-for-asian-pacific-space-cooperation-organization-in-beijing-china/ (accessed 29 October 2010)

Guest Blogger Prof. Donna Davis: Taxes and Checked Airline Baggage

February 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Aviation Law, Guest blogger | Leave a comment

by Donna Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Mississippi School of Law

The Internal Revenue Service recently ruled that airlines are exempt from certain services and facilities taxes on fees charged to check baggage. (PLR 118216-09). While at first glance this appears to be a boon to the airline industry, in fact, if the taxes were imposed, they would fall on air travelers and not the carriers. This tax, much like a sales tax, is imposed on the person purchasing the air transportation and is merely collected and paid over to the government by the airline.

The tax applies to amounts paid in the United States for transportation of any person by air (IRC 4262(d)), and it is imposed on the person making the payment subject to the tax. (IRC 4261(d)) The tax is a 7.5% excise tax imposed on amounts paid for taxable transportation. (IRC 4261) Taxable transportation means travel within the United States plus 225 miles into Mexico or Canada (unless there has been a waiver for the portions falling within Mexico and Canada). (IRC 4262) The responsibility of the airline is to collect the tax from the person making the payment. (IRC 4291) Thus, if the $20 baggage fee were not exempt, the traveler would pay $1.50 of tax, in addition to the taxes paid on the price of the ticket. In exempting the baggage fee from tax, the Service is consistently applying its definition of taxable transportation as excluding amounts paid for optional services that are not necessary for the provision of air transportation.

So why would the airlines bother requesting a ruling on this issue? If the baggage fee was subject to the tax, and the tax was not paid by the traveler, then the tax will be imposed on the carrier providing the initial segment of the transportation. (IRC 4263(c)) The ruling, therefore, provides definitive guidance that the carrier is not obligated to collect the tax from its passengers and that the failure to do so will not come back to haunt the carriers’ coffers.

Guest Blogger Prof. Li Shouping: The Chinese Test on Ground-based Midcourse Missile Interception Technology – A Game Between China and the United States

January 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | 2 Comments

by Prof. Li Shouping

Li Shouping, Ph.D. in international law, professor of international law at the School of Law of Beijing Institute of Technology. He is the Director of the Institute of Space Law. Through a grant from the China Scholarship Council, Prof. Li is a visiting scholar at the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

On January 11, 2010, China conducted a test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology within its territory. The Chinese government announced that the test achieved the expected objective; that it is defensive in nature; and, it is not targeted at any country. As a scholar of international law, I would like to analyze the event and share my views with those interested in the test.

My preliminary view about the test is that it is just a game about the U.S. sales of weapons to Taiwan; about the non-proliferation of missiles; and, about the prevention of an arms race in outer space between the U.S. and China.

The test is a direct response to the U.S. Department of Defense’s decision on January 6, 2010 to sell weapons, including the Patriot III anti-missile system, to Taiwan. The sale of an American anti-missile system to Taiwan means that Taiwan will be integrated into the Theater Missile Defense System (TMD) of the United States. Therefore, the Chinese government thought the sale harmed the sovereignty of China and violated the principle of sovereignty in international law.

Secondly, China conducted the test of missile interception technology in its own territory. Therefore it can be recognized as an act of national defense. In the framework of United Nations, the test of missile interception technology has never been forbidden even though the radical international document, The International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, article 3(3) provides that the Subscribing States resolve, “To exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing and deployment of Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, including, where possible, to reduce national holdings of such missiles, in the interest of global and regional peace and security.” Actually, before China conducted the test, some countries had conducted the similar tests of missile interception.

The legal framework of United Nations lacks a specific and perfect international legal system to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles and the test of missile interception technology. In existing international law, the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) is the most important law source against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their launch vehicles. There are currently 32 international treaties on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation treaty that are interconnected with it.  Unfortunately, the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty in December of 2001. At this point, I don’t think there is any reason to blame the Chinese for the test at this time.

Thirdly, China is actually one of the countries facing a missile threat. At present, only the United States and a few other countries have the middle ground-based anti-missile interception technology. Therefore China will greatly enhance its ability to defend its homeland with this technology. At the same time, I think China also just wanted to strike a balance in the worldwide field of missile interception technology.

Finally, after the Cold War, the United States established the dominant international structure in the world. In this situation, if there is no challenging power to balance the dominance, the international community will be dominated and international law will be as if it were national law.

In the process of weaponization of outer space, if other countries do not have enough rival space weapons to compete with those of the United States, the United States won’t come to the negotiation table to establish a legal system to prevent an arms race in outer space. It is the same in the area of ballistic missiles.

If there are rival space weapons, the United States will recognize that American space weapons can’t really protect the security of its space assets. Only international cooperation to prevent the proliferation of space weapons and arms race in outer space can secure space assets for the United States.

The history of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons supports the above views. If Russia and China had no nuclear weapons in those years, the U.N. non-proliferation mechanism would not have been established.

Of course, international peace and security doesn’t need balance. History has indicated that balance usually results in an arms race, then to war or terrorism. Only international cooperation can establish a harmonious international community and harmonious international relations.


Guest Blogger: Why Not Privatize?

September 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

PhilipJuneBy Philip G. June, Industry Blogger

 BSME; Georgia Institute of Technology. Mr. June is an industry blogger with 5 years experience in the aerospace industry, including 2 years as an engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center. He can be contacted at Philip.June@gmail.com.

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two (SS2) is scheduled to rollout of the Scaled Composite facility in Mojave, California this December. Shortly after rollout, SS2 will make Glide flights followed by powered flights to space later in 2010. The company plans to begin providing commercial services in 2011. Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn feels that “[The company] has got the basis for a really good business in three areas – payloads, science in space and space tourism” (from Aviation Week – September 4, 2009). In a tough economic climate, Virgin Galactic boasts $60 million in total income from 300 suborbital investors. The company’s capital was recently boosted by a $280 million investment from Aabar, an investment group based in Abu Dhabi. $100 million of the investment will be used to develop a satellite launch solution for NASA’s request for proposals for a suborbital science program.   

Even with many promising private space upstarts like Virgin Galactic rapidly developing, NASA appears hesitant to broaden its perspective. Increasing privatization efforts will provide additional resources that may significantly ease NASA’s financial burdens. By sharing costs and operational objectives with private companies – at least in cargo and payload delivery services – NASA could be free to commit more of its limited budget to The Constellation Program and other long-range missions. Private companies have the freedom to develop products quickly, as evidenced by Virgin Galactic’s aggressive SS2 program. Some may say that rapid development of these types of high-cost, high risk technologies is foolish. But with government oversight, private companies can be held to meeting NASA’s core objectives – mitigating risks, assuring operational safety, and insuring mission success. Government action should not be wholly aligned with the private sector but can regulate in a manner that does not preclude investment. A thoughtful course of action could involve strategic capabilities dictated by NASA but with key input from private entities in certain areas.

Privatization is not without its legal obstacles. Increased activity in space will almost certainly lead to further proliferation of space debris, an oft addressed concern of many space law entities. Additionally, how might NASA address new technology agreements with private companies? Recent Space Act Agreements for the new Commercial Crew Development activity may be the template for future agreements. But how would such Acts extend to international entities? What role should international space law play in privatization?

Although NASA and private space companies have difficult legal obstacles ahead, they should push forward towards privatization. NASA has laid a strong foundation for U.S. leadership in space. But constant budget reductions and difficult mission objectives clearly demonstrates NASA’s need for the services of private companies like Virgin Galactic. Space is legally defined as part of the “common heritage of man”. With that idea in mind, the future of human presence in space may depend on cooperation between government and private entities.


 

 

The Impact of the General Election on Japan’s Space Program

September 1, 2009 at 4:12 am | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

AOKIby  Setsuko AOKI

Professor, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University, Japan

The Election of the members of the House of Representatives, held on 31 August 2009, resulted in a landslide victory for the largest Opposition Party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). It will bring about the first change of government since 1955. What will happen in the ongoing space programs carried out under the Ruling Coalition Parties of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito?

My speculation is that, other than the organizational structure of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other important players, civil space programs will more or less stay intact in the short term. Military programs may not be changed drastically due to the fact that Japan has not started serious, concrete military satellite programs other than strengthening the Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) constellation. However, theoretically, future military programs may be held up, including the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program, if the BMD can be included in space programs.

The next Prime Minister, Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, has been a space enthusiast, and was a leader of the bipartisan group of Members of Parliament (MP), “Group to Study Future Space”. There have been many space-related study groups by the MPs, but Hatoyama’s group focused on the scientific and technology aspects of space, not on the military aspects, which was led by different LDP MPs. He also led the “China-Japan Space Dialogue” and has a deep understanding of space development and use. In the DPJ, there are other members who have been deeply involved with space affairs.

A common understanding on the general direction of Japan’s space programs has been shared between the Coalition Parties and the DPJ. Japan’s first national space law, the Basic Space Law, was made based on the bipartisan Basic Space Bill submitted to the Diet, or Japan’s Parliament, on 9 May 2008 (Bill No. 17). That Bill was easily made into a full-fledged law by an overwhelming majority on 21 May 2008 (Law No.43) and became effective on 27 August 2008. The Basic Space Law is characterized by the following points: (1) the banning of the military use of space is lifted; (2) governmental obligation is stipulated to promote space commercialization; and (3) the restructuring of Japan’s space organization has to be conducted.  There is not much of a difference on the views concerning relaxing the military use of space, at least in concept between LDP and DPJ. On the second point, some DPJ members including Mr. Hososno, Mr. Naito, and Mr. Fujisue (the latter two are Members of the House of Councilors and only Mr. Hosono was reelected on 31 August) support accelerating space commercialization and it was DPJ that placed emphasis on the second point by adding some phrases in making a bipartisan bill in late April 2008.

It is on the third point that the DPJ has a different plan. It still remains to be decided, but the DPJ requires the change of the status of JAXA, which is now under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Arguably, it is believed that DPJ wants JAXA to be an independent organization like NASA, while the Ruling Coalition Parties seem to support having JAXA remain as it is with minor changes in structure, or, alternatively, to be transferred either to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) or the Ministry of Cabinet in order to promote industrialization and commercialization of space. Because restructuring JAXA involves the change of the budgetary appropriation process and affects the interests of several Ministries and related MPs, it has not proceeded as expeditiously as required by the Basic Space Law. But, such a big victory of the DPJ now makes it possible to proceed as it wants. Still, it depends on who will be selected as the leader in space activities, but the restructuring of JAXA could be more drastic.

On the military space programs, not a big difference will be brought about, for Japan does not have plans for new military programs other than IGS, which is a modest constellation of advanced remote sensing satellites operated by the civilian Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center (CSICE) of the Cabinet Secretariat, not by the Ministry of Defense. While a Committee on the Promotion of the Development and Use of Space of the Ministry of Defense released a Basic Policy Relating to the Development and Use of Space on 15 January 2009, it just underlined the importance of collecting information using space and took note of the passive nature of Japan’s defense posture and the importance of using existing civilian space capability. This is due to the tight budget, not proposing concrete plans for future military space programs.

Not in specifically military space, but defense programs in general may change under the DPJ government. On 4 August 2009, the Council of Security and Defense Capabilities submitted its report to the Prime Minister. It is supposed to be the basis of the National Defense Program Outline that will be released in December of this year, the first such Outline since December 2004. No sooner than the Report was released, than Mr. Hatoyama made a statement that a report shall be made from scratch by different members in his administration. The Report by the Council of Security and Defense Capabilities recommends maintaining the strong alliance with the U.S., promoting BMD, and relaxing the complete arms embargo known as “Three Principles on Arms Exports”.

Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Is there a Need for New Space Law?

November 9, 2008 at 9:19 am | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

parvizParviz 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 approval of the Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of IR Iran a “Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology” was established by merging the “Council of Sciences, Research and Technology”, “Supreme Council of Information Technology”, “Supreme Council of Communications”, “Supreme Council of Space”, “Supreme Council of Atomic Energy”, “Supreme Council of Communication Media Security”, “Supreme Council of Education and Training”, “Supreme Council of Educational Revolution Logistics”, “Supreme Council of Informatics”, “Supreme Council of Science Applications”, “Supreme Council of Biotechnology” and “Supreme Council of Standards”. However, the newly established Supreme Council were dissolved soon after in February 2008, which followed by the dissolution of the 12 merged councils. The functions of the Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology were put on the newly set-up called “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet of IR Iran.

Decisions made by the councils which members were usually the members of Cabinet, Parliament and non-governmental organizations as well as the relevant experts, was effectual by the approval of the President of IR Iran however, the State believed that the councils were coining the regulations disregarding the role of the State, while it should be responsible for the approvals of those councils.

Dissolution of the Supreme Council of Space specifically urged the revision in the statute of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) to allow it for functioning according to the legislations and approved laws and regulations. As a result the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on June 15, 2008 passed the amendments to the statute of ISA approved in June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on July 2, 2008. In the new statute the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space on the activities and functions of ISA was cancelled. ISA consequently became an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to report to the related Minister.

The Parliament of IR Iran considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal in continuation and decided to revive the dissolved councils however, the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. According to the Constitution of IR Iran, if the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran object an approval of the Parliament and return it for revision, the Parliament will check it again. In case of dissatisfaction of the Guardian Council, the approval will be offered to the “Assembly for Distinguishing the Prudence of the Regime” for final decision. By the approval of the “Assembly for Distinguishing the Prudence of the Regime” on 27 September 2008 the State is mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution.   

Based on the earlier approvals ISA was mandated to covers and support all the activities in IR Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under leadership of a Supreme Council chaired by the President of IR Iran. The Council’s main goals included, policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related programs of state and private institutions and organizations, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, and identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by the Supreme Council of Space, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was organized.

By reviving of the Supreme Council of Space the need for changing the statute of ISA seems to be mandatory. The statute should ratify the relation of the revived Supreme Council of Space with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of the Agency in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of the Supreme Council of Space.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger, Parviz Tarikhi: Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station Verging into a Space Center

October 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

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.

Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station that is currently affiliated with the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and officially entitled Mahdasht Space Center is located approximately 65 kilometers west of Tehran with 42 hectares area. The station established in 1972. The activities and development of the station could be chronicled as below, however it should not be ignored that in each period the driving attitudes and visions of the authorities have influenced its progress and development indeed.

Period of 1972-1978: Launch of the United States Earth Resource Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) -which later became Landsat-1- in 1972 actually raised the attention and real interest in remote sensing technology in Iran and is considered as the start point for such the space related activities in the country. Soon after an office for data collection in the Budget and Planning Organization of the date established. Because of rapid developments and progress in the space technologies and remote sensing in particular, Iran was enthusiastically stepping forward in harmony with the global advancements in this connection. As a result, benefiting the supports from the United States of America (USA) Iran decided to proceed for direct acquisition of satellite data. USA therefore complied Iran’s request and it was agreed that Iran supply data to the 33 countries under coverage of Iran’s receiving antenna to be installed. In 1974 a contract was signed between Iran and General Electric Company of USA for installation and conducting a satellite data receiving station.

At the same time, under the Plan for Satellite Data Applications the remote sensing activities officially continued in the National Radio and Television Organization of Iran of the date. Through a feasibility study for site selection, the current site of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station at Mahdasht (formerly named Mard Abad) of Karaj was distinguished suitable for establishing the station for direct satellite data receiving. The installation process began in 1976 and two phases including tracking and data acquisition completed and operationalized by 1978 while three full coverage of Landsat satellite data of Iran was acquired and archived by the station. 

 

According to signed contract between Iran and the US General Electric Company, and based on the global common procedures for satellite data acquisition in USA, Canada and some other countries five phases were planned for set-up in Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station as follows:

  • First Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for tracking the Earth resource satellites and direct data acquisition from those satellites  
  • Second Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for recording and data correction
  • Third Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for analysis and data processing
  • Fourth Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for data management
  • Fifth Phase, including installation and operationalizing the facilities for data printing, proliferation and production

The advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978 urged rapid quit of the US contractor and suspension of the project implementation following which the management and coordination of the plan was put on Iran.    

Period of 1978-1991: Change in the visions and emerging new managerial attitudes because of the Islamic Revolution in Iran put the plans for development of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station and continuation of its activities in a long-lasting ambiguity. The experts, engineers and even the mid-rank managers of the station began the efforts for saving it and justifying the top authorities and decision-makers of the importance and necessity for continuation of the work of such the station and the role that remote sensing and other space technologies can play in informed management and control of the resources and available potentials for development of the country. Management of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station was shifted from the National Radio and Television Organization to the Budget and Planning Organization again. The main and considerable success for the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station in this period that was realized in light of the efforts and work of the experts and engineers of the station is as follows:

·      Operationalizing and conducting the installed facilities for direct data acquisition from meteorological NOAA satellites series

  • Training the experts and technologists of the user organizations and institutes throughout the country for transferring the technology of satellite applications
  • Installation and operationalizing the second, third, fourth and fifth phases of the station for data production and proliferation 

Production and availability of the full coverage of satellite data of Iran acquired and archived by the station provided the possibility for access to the satellite data of Iran for implementing different projects and plans around the country and holding workshops for transferring the knowledge and expertise of satellite data applications.  

Period of 1991-1996: In line with the efforts made by the experts for development of remote sensing technologies throughout the country in the previous period, some commitments officially made for changing the existing situation and transition from the Plan for Satellite Data Applications and further institutionalizing of the remote sensing activities. In 1991 the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IR Iran) passed the law for transferring from the Plan for Satellite Data Applications to the state-run firm of the Iranian Remote Sensing Center (IRSC). According to the approval IRSC became affiliated to the Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephone (MPTT) of the date. The latter changed to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology according to the approval of the Parliament of IR Iran on 10 December 2003.   

Period of 1996-2002: Approval of the law for changing the Plan for Satellite Data Applications to the state-run firm of IRSC caused some legal problems for IRSC in terms of securing its financial sources and inability for developing its plans and programs. The authorities decided to downsize IRSC and confined the activities of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station that finally led to suspension of the activity of the station temporarily. However, before the suspension, the activities of the fifth and first phases including data production and proliferation, and direct data acquisition from meteorological satellites continued in its lowest level.     

Period of 2002-date: Administrational and organizational changes in MPTT and its transition to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology followed by the establishment of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) in February 2004. ISA covered officially, according to its establishment law, all the remote sensing activities throughout the country. Consequently the activation of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station and its revival was highly considered by the authorities. Reconstruction and operationalizing of the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station practically began in 2003. In continuation all the active receiving facilities of ISA in Saadat Abad headquarter in north of Tehran translocated gradually to the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. New specialists as well as staff have been employed. Although the antenna for receiving from Landsat has been abandoned, other facilities for receiving from new generation satellites including TERRA-MODIS, IRS and NOAA continues and the plans for receiving from other satellites is in the way. This all is in line with the plans for concentrating the remote sensing activities of ISA in Mahdasht Station and developing it to become the Mahdasht Space Center in the near future. The site will comprise of the most comprehensive and multi-task ground space complexes, laboratories as well as work, living and leisure facilities for the Iran’s space science and technology specialists, scientists and officials.

 

 

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