February 17, 2012: For the third time in the last three years Iran has put a satellite (Navid) into orbit using one of its own rockets. Navid is a 50 kg (110 pound) photo satellite with an estimated lifespan of 18 months. Navid is apparently also testing other functions, like communications. Iran launched the Rasad-1 photo satellite last year. The first Iran launched satellite, Omid, was called an experimental telecommunications effort, and it went up in 2009. Iran's first satellite reached orbit in 2005, using a Russian rocket. Another did so in 2008, using a Chinese rocket.
Iran is trying to get an Italian firm to let go of a $10 million Mesbah-1 telecommunications satellite built for Iran seven years ago. Shipment of the satellite was halted when new sanctions were slapped on Iran, which made the paid-for satellite illegal for Italy to export. When Iran made the Mesbah-1 deal, the 75 kg (175 pound) satellite was to be launched using a Russian rocket. But now Iran has rockets that can launch small satellites and wants to get their hands on Mesbah-1 and launch it themselves. But that won't happen with the sanctions. And even more recent sanctions make it illegal for Russia to launch the Mesbah-1. Since the Mesbah-1 was somewhat low-tech, Iran went ahead and built one itself, which it plans to launch on an Iranian rocket this year and hopes their version (of both the rocket and the satellite) will work.