US Space Force chief General Jay Raymond has called an Iranian military satellite launched earlier this week, “a tumbling webcam in space.”
General Raymond made the comments about the NOUR 01 satellite in an April 25 tweet. In addition to referring to it as “a tumbling webcam in space”, he stated that the satellite was “unlikely [to be] providing intel.”
The NOUR 01 satellite (which has also previously been referred to as Noor 1) was launched aboard the previously unheard of Qased rocket on April 22 from the Shahrud Missile Test Site. Following the launch, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard announced the success of the launch to a skeptical world.
Since the announcement, the satellite has been independently verified in orbit. Additionally, amateur radio astronomers have picked up signals from the satellite verifying that it is operational.
As well as stating that the satellite is unlikely to be providing intel to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Raymond also revealed that the satellite was likely a 3U CubeSat.
A stand unit (U) of a CubeSat is 10cm x 10cm x 11.35cm. A 3U satellite is, as a result, approximately 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. This contradicts earlier reports which suggested the satellite was a far more capable 6U CubeSat.
In addition to suggesting that it’s much smaller than expected, information pulled by amateur radio astronomers appears to indicate the satellite offers basic functionality with the use off-the-shelf satellite components.