New Scientist reported today that Iran’s Safir-2 rocket that launched the country’s first homebuilt satellite into orbit on 2 February was more powerful and advanced than initially thought.
“Initially, outside rocket experts thought the Safir-2 was based on scud missile technology…[mounting] a very small, solid-fuelled third stage… to provide the final kick needed to get Omid to orbit,” New Scientist reports. But satellite trackers reported that the final stage, which also reached orbit, appeared “much too bright to be a tiny third stage, hinting that it might be a two-stage vehicle using more advanced technology instead.”
“I think it's [now] much more likely that it really is a two-stage rocket," Geoffrey Forden of MIT told New Scientist. Forden analyses the rocket programs of Iran, China and Russia.
If Iran really has developed more advanced rockets that can burn more efficient fuel, then it is a step closer to launching people into space, Forden says. “[Iran] could get a person up into low-Earth orbit certainly within a decade, at the rate they're going,” Forden told New Scientist.
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