Detail of Sharud site [source: Norbert Brugge]
According to IHS Jane's 360:
The [Shahrud] site discovered by IHS Jane's is 165 km to the northeast of the existing Semnan space centre and 40 km southeast of the city of Shahrud. Construction started between May and September 2010 - around the same time that the expansion at the Semnan site began - and now extends over an area of approximately 100 km 2.
Like Semnan, the Shahrud facility has a launch tower that is approximately 23 m high, suggesting the two sites duplicate the ability to launch the Simorgh or even larger rockets.
However, there are significant layout differences: the Shahrud facility's 140x200 m pad is far larger and it has a single 125 m-long rocket exhaust shaft, rather than two. Its 62x47 m horizontal rocket checkout facility is also smaller than the 100x50 m one at Semnan.
It is [...] likely that [Iran's three space center] sites reflect the scale of Iran's ambitious space programme, which plans to launch constellations of communications, surveillance and weather satellites in the coming years. A manned-space mission has also been talked about.
The Semnan facility has been launching SLVs eastwards, so they benefit from the Earth's rotation to gain additional altitude. A facility at Chabahar would presumably launch rockets southwards over the Indian Ocean, which would be useful for putting surveillance satellites into polar orbits.
With all this activity planned, it would make sense for Iran to build a new facility dedicated to testing its next generation of long-range, solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The Shahrud facility would be well-suited to this role. The area has a history of involvement in Iran's ballistic missile programme, the new facility's buildings are spread out to minimise the risk of sympathetic explosions resulting from accidents, and there does not appear to be a liquid-fuel storage area.
Its orientation suggests it would launch towards the south-south-east, meaning large amounts of telemetry data could be gathered as missiles fly over Iranian territory. The rocket stages would fall inside Iran and the final stages would come down in the Indian Ocean.
Shahrud launch pad area [source: Norbert Brugge]
Sharud site: 36°12' 02" / 55°20' 15" [source: Norbert Brugge]
There are a number of possible explanations for this identified site, including:
a) It is related to Iran's ambitious space program, in general, which under the administration sought the relatively lofty goal of putting an astronaut in earth orbit.
b) It is related to Iran's ballistic missile research and development. Iran's solid-fueled ballistic missiles such as the Sejjil range of MRBMs (and potentially further developed missile types) are reportedly under-tested.
It will be interesting to see if Iran's space program will be accorded the same level of priority under the Rouhani administration, which even under the later days of the preceding administration appeared to be behind schedule possibly due to the adverse effects of U.S. led sanctions being applied against the country.
Above: Map showing Iran's three Space Centers [IHS Janes 360]
Iran’s Sejjil 2 MRBM is tested at the country’s Semnan facility. Sejjil is a two-stage solid-fuel rocket with a range of 2,000 km. The need to build a new launch site, especially under the current financial situation, can probably mean that it would be dedicated to test much larger, long-rage ballistic missiles, like ICBMs. Development of such missiles could benefit, and almost requires, a dedicated testing launch pad.
It is true the ICBMs can be used in advanced space program that Iran has said it intends to develope, but they can also be used for military purposes by carrying heavy bombs, including nuclear weapons, at longer range.
I had posted this about two years ago based on FACTS that Iran will have an ICBM by 2015, the Sejjil are solid fuel and with booster rockets can already travel in excess of 5,000 kms. Kindly check North Korea's progress, Iran's space and middle program is about a decade ahead of DPRK even though they collaborate on many R&D aspects.
Iran is developing a TRIAD based missile delivery system capable of second strike and well dispersed taking advantage of Iran's mountainous and diverse terrain, which is a defenders dream. The Iranian missile force blueprint is similar to French Force de Frappe. Iran already has an extensive underground reinforced silo based missiles that Mark has already posted on. I also believe that if the US/Zionists keep pushing Iran, it will cold test a nuke at least and withdraw from the NPT and let the chips fall where they may. US must recognize Iran's legitimate nuclear needs and national defence dimensions. Just look at the pathetic neighborhood that Iran lives in.
If any nation needed nukes it is Iran. We have been subjected to daily threats, a brutal war for 8 years, a sustained campaign of terror , assassination of scientists, Zionist barking and endless economic sanctions. Based on the DPRK experience, the US/Zionist hyenas only respect nukes and one nuke a day keeps the Zionist mutt away.
Another rational aspect of this site is the ideally suited location in terms of launch orbital trajectory and the orientation would be suitable for long-range missile tests as they would fly over Iranian territory for 870 miles, meaning large quantities of flight data could be gathered before they drop into the Indian Ocean.
From the detailed and magnified photos from Janes and Google earth, there are NO liquid fuel storage tanks but permanent platforms to launch satellites, suggesting it will be used for solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The other fact is that the location is not near any major Iranian nuclear facility, a clear indication that it has more to do with long range missile testing, space research and satellite launches.
Mohammad Hassan Nami, minister of communication and information technology, said last month Iran was “building other centres too and we are trying to have a powerful start”.
US and other western intelligence have long known that Iran will be able to test intercontinental ballistic missiles by 2015. Iran had been developing solid fuel rockets which are quicker to deploy than liquid fuel versions and can be deployed on mobile launchers making detection or targeting very difficult. According to data from previous solid fuel Sejjil launches, Iran can deploy and fire a solid fuel missile in less than 15-30 minutes launch time. Iran also has a second strike force in reinforced subterranean silos that can be launched almost instantly in response to any threat. They also have multiple warheads making interception almost impossible.
perhaps Iran will be made to suffer prior for the attempt. Nobody in the west respects Iran's government at all and will not be deterred by the sleazy cabal of priests.
Wow. Iran is really moving on.
Yes Uskowi, but that is pure speculation on your part. The interchangeability between satellite launch vehicles(with an actual useful payload and orbital range period) and ICBM's is no big secret. It hasn't been since the late 1950's. Yet at this point, what need does Iran have for a functional ICBM as compared to actual functioning satellites for regional reconnaissance, targeting and both military and civilian communications purposes? More importantly, what proof do you have that Iran is actually building an ICBM design, or more importantly, even has a functional nuclear device to attach to it, or will in the near future?
The last time I heard talk about purported WMD programs was back in 2002. That led directly to the Iraq war. I lost friends there. I have to deal with the PTSD of veterans from that conflict on a nearly daily basis. I want some actual proof. Not conjecture.
No offense Uskowi, as I generally respect what you say. I am no fan of the theocracy(which I see as inherently racist, as all Islamist movements actually are), and thoroughly enjoy reading this blog, but you are really jumping the gun here. We have seen what results that can give us.
I also emphasized the dual use of the long-range missiles, without speculating that Iran has decided to build ICBMs for military purposes. But there is a valid reason for them to do just that: If they are after the so-called “Japan Option,” the state of readiness to build nuclear weapons in a short notice, then they must have a credible delivery vehicle, which would mean larger long-range missiles in Iran’s case (as opposed to planes or submarines.) Japan option without delivery system is no option. Could they really be after sending the man to the moon? I’ve seen stranger things in life, yes they could. But considering their current financial situation, I doubt very much that civilian space program is their priority.
Thanks for your continued readership and active presence on this small blog. It means the world to us.
Iran definitly needs to nuke the mullahs!
Well Mr.Uskowi, we are in complete agreement on the IRI idea of sending a man to the moon...
Of course, what you elaborate on does make sense. With the basis of ICBM capability through the someday future potential capacity to put multi-ton satellites into LEO, does come enough "throw weight" to orbit a single astronaut, and of course more importantly there in lays the "Japan option" you speak of.
How eactly is irans government "racist"?
Anyone with a brain knows Islamism = 21st Extreme Arab Nationalism.
One can not have an independent culture, ethnicity, nationality, religious difference, etc...One must be a 7th century Muslim in the strictest sense laid out by the "Islamist." Islamism therefore is cultural genocide. It is modern day puritanical fascism. It destroys lives, cultures, freedom of thought, societies, and people.
It is a disease, and it will be eradicated with time. Just like communism, nazism, colonialism, etc. It is too backward to survive more than another decade or two. It is simply incapable of scientific and social progress...
-YOSSARIAN- with due respect-do you really know the meaning of racism?-oh! THE IRI has a new tittle from you RACIST.Now J.F should start from here and bring us some gory pictures of racist practices by the regime!!.
Mullah regime is racist against old Iranian culture,which is based on happiness.
Thats wahabism it has nothing to do with shia iran,iran may have an islamic government but that doesnt make it "islamist",if you cant see the difference between sunni wahabism and shia iran you must be blind and last time I looked iran was doing pretty well when it came to the development and application of the sciences and as for social progress there is little comparison between shia iran and sunni saudi arabia
I am amazed at the speculation surrounding this latest development. In fact, we do not know the purpose behind the new facility. It could be a large vertical stand for static testing of solid or liquid propellant boosters. It could be a launch facility for space related ventures. Or, it might be a launch stand for ballistic missiles. That there are no liquid propellant storage tanks means little, at this point; they could be easily added in the future. Also, the cost of the stand/pad/tower is really quite minimal, relative to other missile and space related expenditures.
On Sejjil, oddly it has been tested only once in the past three or so years. Why so little testing? Is Iran having technical problems? The maximum range of the Sejjil is about 2,000km, not the 5,000km quoted above. Is Iran planning to employ a solid propellant SLV in the near future? This would provide a platform for testing the boosters for future missile development, or in parallel with missile development. And creating a separate facility for solid SLVs would provide a safety factor if the motor were to fail catastrophically; in other words, an explosion would damage the redundant launch platform, not the more expensive one in Semnan.
One thing missing, however. If the assembly buildings adjacent to the launch platform are designed for solid SLVs/missiles, why are there no earthen berms around the buildings? Is Iran relying only on distance for protection in case of accident? Seems so.
Interesting development, but we must all wait to see what it means for Iran, and the region.
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