Jerusalem – The Israeli security establishment has been searching the skies for the small Iranian satellite, Hope, ever since the 15-pound communications device was launched into space on Saturday.
It is supposed to pass over the Middle East once every 90 minutes, but there have been no signs of it.
Now it is being speculated that it failed to survive the launch into space.
Israeli security experts offer three possible scenarios for what became of the satellite. The first is that it disengaged from the Safir missile, returned to the atmosphere and was burned; the second is that the satellite failed to disengage from the Safir and fell with the remnants of the missile; the third, that the satellite entered into orbit, but its transmitter doesn’t work.
The director of the Iranian Space Authority announced yesterday that Iran was prepared to help Muslim countries develop the capacity for launching satellites into space.
Yet only a few hours after the launch, the director of the Iranian Space Authority claimed that the satellite in question had been a dummy satellite. Senior U.S. Defense Department officials told CNN yesterday that the launch had not gone as well as the Iranians had claimed.
The Israeli response to Iranians firing ballistic missiles has been to install two batteries of Arrow missiles, which could potentially defend against Iranian missiles.
Meanwhile, Israel Aircraft Industries and Boeing Aircraft began earlier this year to develop the Arrow 3 missile system that is supposed to be able to deal with Iranian ballistic missiles at a distance of between 300 and 400 miles away from Israel – while they are almost in space, en route to Israel. The development of the Arrow 3 missile system is supposed to be completed by 2012.
This was the third time that Iran announced a satellite launch. Last February, Iran conducted an experiment that it described as a space launch, but the launcher blew up a few minutes after the missile left the launching pad. In October 2005, the Iranian satellite Sina 1 satellite, built in Russia, was launched by a Russian launcher.
There are more details that reinforce the assessment that this was a fraud: The Iranians did not give out any information about the path of the satellite, nor about the altitude reached by the launcher.
Communication satellites orbit at altitudes of 36,000 kilometers, in a precise equatorial path, while this launcher ascended from the launching pad and suddenly “stopped” in the dark night sky.
Unless this satellite weighed the same as a grapefruit, experts say the thrust of such a launcher could not put it into orbit at all.
In addition, it seems that the night launch was meant to hide the missile and its ground systems from the eyes of Israel’s and U.S. spy satellites. But the U.S. constantly monitors Iranian launchings with the aid of three sensor satellites over the Middle East, which could precisely detect the “heat signature” of the launcher and add it to their detailed catalog, making it possible to identify immediately in future launchings.
This is what happened about a month and a half ago, when Iran launched many Scud, Shihab and Zelzal missiles. American and Israeli intelligence learned a lot from this “pyrotechnics display,” where, again, critics say Iran also tried to pull the wool over the world’s eyes with a fabricated picture.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008