Russia launched an Iranian satellite into Orbit on Tuesday, which Iranian officials say marks the beginning of a “strategic cooperation” between the two countries on the space front.
The Khayyam satellite, named after the 11th Century Persian mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyam, is a remote sensing satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera, which Iran says is for environmental monitoring. The resolution of the camera is said to be about one meter per pixel, which isn’t really up to par with western military and civilian satellites, but marks a significant upgrade to Iran’s capabilities nonetheless. The satellite was on board a Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket and was launched from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
?? Iran successfully launched the domestically made Khayyam satellite into space today using the Russian Soyuz launcher from the Baikonur space base in Kazakhstan.
The satellite has an imaging accuracy of "one meter".
— Arya ?? (@AryJaey) August 9, 2022
The launch has come under scrutiny by western defense officials, who have speculated that the satellite can be used for military monitoring by Russia, Iran, or both. Days before the launch, unnamed security officials told the Washington Post that Russia intends on using the satellite for themselves to support military operations in Ukraine. There have also been accusations that Iran will use the satellite to monitor Israeli targets. Iran has denied the claims, stating “The rumors about using the satellite’s photos for military purposes are wrong.”
The past two years have seen a push by Iran to launch satellites into Orbit. The Noor-1, Iran’s first military satellite, was launched in 2020 with the Noor-2 having been launched in march of this year. Both satellite systems, however, were said to be marred by technical issues and low camera resolutions. Likewise, the Zuljanah Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) was tested in February 2020. Amongst these three successful launches, there have been several failed test flights resulting in explosions on the launch pad while using domestically built rockets (one such example above).