Iran Announces Opening Of Space Monitoring Center
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Iran just got one step closer to outer space with this weekend´s announcement that they´ve set up a “Space Monitoring Center” near Tehran. The nation has said they plan to use the center to monitor satellite activity as well as perform research into space and monitor what happens in their own country. Given the long-running tension between the US and Iran, some officials are reportedly worried that this means Iran could acquire — or already have — the capability to launch anti-satellite missiles. According to the International Business Times, Iran has said they´ll share this new facility with “friendly countries” and share the information therein.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in attendance at the inauguration of the new monitoring and surveillance center and spoke with pride about the nation´s achievements.
“This is a highly great achievement and we are among the few countries with such a centre … if we sent a satellite into the space, we can receive its information in our country,” said Ahmadinejad during the opening ceremony.
The new facility is located near the town of Delijan some 125 miles south of the capital of Tehran.
The facility joins the existing eight facilities used as a part of Iran´s space program and will use electro-optic, radar and radio tracking to monitor objects in orbit.
According to official agencies in the area, Iran plans to use the facility for space exploration and surveillance. The nation has had their eye towards space for several years now and has been making strides to join the international community already there. This new building is said to be capable of monitoring which satellites are currently flying over Iran as well as launching their own satellites into orbit. Once there, Iran says they want to use these satellites to keep an eye on activity on the ground as well as monitor the effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes, to which the region is particularly prone.
“This centre has been inaugurated to maintain the security of Iran’s space and spatial systems since we should constantly monitor spatial objects and satellites passing through the country’s atmosphere,” said Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, according to the Fars News Agency.
The Associated Press points out that these kinds of claims from Iran can often be hard to confirm. While the country may claim they want to use the facility to watch other satellites and get their own satellite into orbit as well, the US and its allies are worried this means they could also use the facility to build long-range missiles.
The Tehran Times claims the inauguration of the new facility wasn´t the only stop for President Ahmadinejad on Sunday afternoon.
He and the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Fereydoun Abbasi also attended a ceremony in which a heavy water reactor was installed at the Arak nuclear reactor. This reactor is said to be replacing the existing Tehran reactor and will be used to generate radioisotopes used in cancer treatment. While at the Arak ceremony, Abbasi said the reactor is expected to make great progress by the end of March 2014.