Iran today launched its first space research rocket. The rocket is codenamed “Kavoushgar 1” (Explorer 1). The launch was broadcast live on IRIB, Iran’s state-run TV network. ISNA reported that the rocket was launched from a desert location near Semnan.
Iran’s first space center was also inaugurated during a ceremony attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The space center contains the launch pad for space rockets.
The centerpiece of the space center will be a domestically-developed research satellite, named “Omid” (Hope). Omid will be launched from the space center, making Iran only the 11th country with technology to launch a satellite into space. The launch date for Omid Satellite has not been disclosed, although media reports indicated the satellite would be launched in the coming months. The test firing of Kavoushgar 1 today was an essential step into launching the satellite aboard a similar rocket. Omid will be set at a low orbit.
The new space center will also house an underground control station with tracking, control and communication equipment required to launch space rockets and satellites.
In October 2005, a Russian rocket launched Iran's first satellite, Sina-1, which carried telecommunications equipment.
Today’s launch shows Iran’s rapid advancement in developing rocket technology and long-range ballistic missiles.
The White House called the launch “unfortunate.” The White House spokeswoman said Iran will “further isolate itself” within the international community.
The launch of space rocket comes on the eve of 29th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran.
Noteworthy that Iran demonstrates the political and technical confidence necessary in broadcasting experimental rocket launches live on public television. It is an unusual practice.
ArmsControlWonk is reporting that the Iranians may be having some technical problems with their rocket/missile program that have not been made public. Most of the contributors to the ArmsControlWonk website seem to be nuclear and rocketry engineers and technicians and a lot of what they have to say is far beyond my experience and expertise, but for what it's worth:
Iran's February 4th launch of a Shahab-3 just keeps on getting more and more interesting; that is if you are interested in just how good of a missile the Shahab/No'dong is. Video from Iran's television show that there is a failure of the missile's thrust vector control system nineteen seconds into its powered flight. At that point, there is a brief flaring at the very end of the missile and an object is seen flying off for several seconds, until it leaves the video's frame as the camera continues to follow the missile. Tellingly, it doesn't just drop off the missile but is given quite a transverse boost.
What is happening? The most likely explanation is that a part of one of the graphite jet vanes, little fins that are stuck into the exhaust just outside the nozzle and are used to steer the missile both in its pitch program and to correct for unwanted deviations in its trajectory. Jet vanes must be manufactured from very hard and pure graphite otherwise it is subject to being "eaten" away by the corrosive effects of the exhaust.
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