TEHRAN — Iran has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits, Tuesday reports said.
The Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry.
Hassan Salarieh, chief of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told national TV that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another.
“As part of efforts to further expand homegrown telecommunications technology and manufacture a satellite rotating on a geostationary orbit (GEO), the development of the space tug was placed high on the agenda of the Iranian Space Research Center. This means a quicker and smoother process of obtaining the orbital point synchronized with the Earth once a satellite elevates its orbital height from the geostationary orbit to the operational one,” Hassan Salaryieh, acting chief of Iran’s space agency, said.
“Since the design and construction of a tug is a very sophisticated and costly task and its launch must be carried out with reliability considerations taken into full consideration, the intermediate steps of technology development were therefore included in the program,” he added.
“The first step, which included the test of the engine of the first stage of the space tug as well as the test of the performance of its rotation generating and de-rotating motors, was successfully completed,” Salariyeh noted.
He further explained that the suborbital payload was sent to a high altitude during the second step so as to test the performance of the cold gas thrusters, the rotation generating and de-rotation engines, the tracking and aiming system, and the payload separation system.
In June Tehran had launched a solid-fuel rocket into space and in August a Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in April 2020 successfully launched a satellite into orbit.