On MAKS air show on August 2015 Iran and Russia representatives signed agreement for cooperation in aviation and space industry. Agreement was worth $21 billion and covers satellite technology and military and civilian aircrafts. Now we now that contract for designing and manufacturing remote sensing satellite for Iran will be signed in April 2016.
Iran is still developing own military forces and during improvement process is not forgetting about space part of own armed forces. On April 2016 Russia and Iran representatives will sign contract for launching Iran satellite in 2018 which will be designed and manufactured in Russia. According to IRNA and Tass news agencies, contract will be signed with Russian Space Monitoring Systems, Information & Control and Electromechanical Complexes (VNIIEM) and it was confirmed by its chief, Leonid Macridenko on February 2016:
“We hope to sign the satellite launch contract by the middle of April. If the contract is signed, the launch may take place at the end of 2018,”
It is interesting what covers this short statement. Surely, if agreement signed on August 2018 in Moscow was not covering important and crucial matter, it would not be signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov. Russian authorities decided to support Iran and will develop remote sensing satellite for, according to official statements, earth observation. It will be based on Kanopus-V satellite and it will be manufactured in the cooperation between Iranian company Bonyan Danesh Shargh and Russian companies: NPK Barl (manufacturer of TRIRON Special Mobile Ground Complex installed on military truck) and VNIIEM. Kanopus-V was designed by VNIIEM to provide real-time, high resolution imaging of Earth surface. It is equipped in panchromatic and multispectral cameras. Panchromatic camera is able to operate with resolution up to 2.1 m with swath of 20 km; multispectral operates with resolution of 10.5 m and swath of 41 km. Satellite was designed to operate on SSO on altitude of 510 km. It weighs 400 kg, offers payload capacity at 110 kg and is able to provide up to 300 W of power. Satellite is able to store up to 24 GB of data in its internal memory, transmit it on 8,048 MHz – 8,381.5 MHz to Earth with speed of 122.88 MB/s – 61.4 Mb/s. Satellite was designed to remain operational for at least 5 years. Kanopus-V was lifted to orbit for the first time on July 22, 2012 on atop of Soyuz-FG rocket, along with its export version for Belarus (BKA satellite). In spite of fact that Kanopus bus serves as base for many civilian satellites it is also utilized for strictly military spacecrafts (like Kosmos-2511 launched on 5 December 2015). It could be said that it depends only on Iran authorities how they will utilize their new satellite, because it is not equipped in any special onboard equipment which could not be used for military reconnaissance. For sure it will be real improvement in constellation of Iranian observation satellites. Until now it was covering nano- and microsatellites with less than average resolution and operational life longevity. Of course, Russia probably will not sell most crucial technology for imaging satellites (for example technology of high resolution cameras), but it is possible that Iran will buy Kanopus bus technology – solar arrays, power management technology, propulsion or avionics. If this does happen, in fact, we can expect series of new Iranian remote sensing satellites about one or two years after launch planned for 2018.