Three weeks after President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged to work together against the West, Russia launched an Iranian satellite into orbit on Tuesday from southern Kazakhstan. Russia’s Space Agency said that a Russian Soyuz rocket launched the remote Khayyam sensing satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and successfully entered orbit.
Russia’s Space Agency said a Russian Soyuz rocket launched the remote Khayyam sensing satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and successfully entered orbit. According to the Iranian ICT minister, the launch signals the beginning of ‘strategic cooperation’ between the two countries in the space industry.
Russia has attempted to convince its enemies that its forces are strengthening rather than weakening. However, as Russia felt its Western sanctions on Tuesday, it continued its finger-pointing methods by blaming Ukraine for blocking its oil exports over alleged Ukrainian claims that Russia wasn’t paying export fees.
Many find it curious that Russia’s Space Agency used an Iranian-owned satellite, leaving the seemingly totalitarian nation dependent on another country, one that has a unified motive: down with the West. However, Iran claims it launched the satellite for non-military purposes.
However, Russia has sought to deepen its ties with Iran since its initial invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In July, Putin visited Iran on his first international trip outside the former Soviet Union since Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine began. During that visit, Khamenei told Putin that Tehran and Moscow needed to stay vigilant against “Western deception.”
Iran rejects claims of the satellite being used by Moscow to boost its intelligence capabilities in Ukraine, saying that it maintained complete control and operation “since day one.”
Earlier this month, The Washington Post conducted interviews where anonymous Western intelligence officials claimed that Russia was planning to use the satellite to further their mission in Ukraine “for months or longer.” The post stood fearful that the satellite would not only help Russia in Ukraine, but provide Iran “unprecedented capabilities” to monitor potential military targets in Israel and the wider middle east.
With an intent to combat concerns came the Iranian Space Agency (IRA). The IRA released a statement assuring the world that a team of Iranian engineers and scientists in Iran would encrypt and manage all commands sent to the satellite and data collected from it, ensuring that “no other country has access to the information during this process.”
The agency reiterated its mission, adding that images from Khayyam, which are anticipated to have a resolution of one meter, will be used to strengthen “management and planning capacities” in several industries, including border monitoring as well as agriculture, natural resources, environment, water resources, mining, and disaster management.
Despite geopolitical tensions between Moscow and Washington, the United States and Russia have always maintained collaboration and close connections in the sphere of space. Roscosmos and NASA recently inked a deal to carry each other’s astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Still, Moscow has mentioned quitting the ISS at some point in the future.