26 February 2007

Iran's Space Launch: Did They or Didn't They?

(earlier report on Iran's space launcher acivity here)

Much reporting since yesterday regarding Iran's claims to have launched an object into space. To set the record right, Mohsen Bahrami, the head of Iran's aerospace research centre, told state television that "The first space rocket has been successfully launched into space," without disclosing its range or the date of the launch. He went on to state that "The rocket was carrying material intended for research created by the ministries of science and defence." Subsequent reports from the FARS News Agency says the rocket was really a 'sounding rocket' carrying scientific experiments to an altitude of only 150 km.

YHS has ample reason and evidence to suspect that even that did not take place. However, on the off chance that a sounding rocket was in fact launched, the kind of technology and engineering required for a sounding rocket is not extraordinary and well within the current capabilities of Iran to develop from the SRBMs they already have. One example of a sounding rocket in wide use in the West is the Black Brant which typically carries payloads of 70-850 kg up to altitudes of 150 - 1500 km (payload dependant) and provides up to 20 minutes of useful time for experiments in micro-gravity, upper atmospheric research and the like.

We'll certainly keep an eye on this evenmt and see what develops, but YHS is more concerned re. ongoing MR/IRBM development and what that portends, especially in light of Ahmadinejad's remarks over the weekend.


A Black Brant being launched from White Sands Missile Range.