Omid - Iran's Hope in Space
2014 Apr 24
Thursday, Day 114
The Omid Satellite
Omid was launched 2009 February 2 at 18:35 UTC. Local time was the middle of the night and it was dark. The satellite flew out north-south across the country and exited out of southern Iran on a southbound trajectory taking it over the Arabian Sea. It was probably not the first attempt by Iran to put a satellite into orbit but it was successful.
A look at a map of the world shows that Iran has few options in terms of launch direction. Most of the compass is blocked-in by neighbouring countries, not all of whom would be sympathetic to a missile overflying their territory.
South-eastward towards the Indian Ocean, running roughly parallel with the coast of India minimises the inclination and produces something in the region of 55 degrees to the equator. The launch site is deep inside Iran, well away from the coast, so the sector of launch azimuth that would result in an ascent trajectory avoiding overflight of other countries is quite limited.
According to Iran, It was aimed at an orbit of 250 x 350 kilometres at 55 degrees inclination. Orbital element sets published by Spacetrack confirm this and show the final stage of the Safir-2 launching rocket in a slightly higher orbit.
There is confusion over Omid's mission. It seems to be a simple demonstrator of Iran's technical capabilities but in some quarters, it is ascribed a 'store-dump' satellite-based communications mission and in one of the launch-related television broadcasts, what seems to be a senior figure gives an interview describing the transmission of text, e-mail and FAX.
The photograph shows what may be a version of the Omid satellite prepared for launch in 2008. It was on display for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran. The satellite is a cube, 0.4m on each and with mass 27.270kg as can be seen from the scales. The eight aerials mentioned in the Iranian description are visible - four on the top of the cube and four on the right hand side. I reality, they probably represent two aerials, each constructed of four rods acting as transmitter/receiver and reflector.
In this second image, grey squares are visible on two sides of Omid. They are also present on the other two sides but not on the top or bottom. They are probably patch aerials for the GPS receiver. By setting them around the 'waist' of the spinning body, they maximise the view of satellites in the GPS constellation....... note the second unclad Omid in the background, on the floor of the laboratory.
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