Launch sight – Iranian rocket capabilities advance

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Jane’s Information Group

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled two key components of Iran’s new light space-launch vehicle (SLV), known as the Simorgh (Phoenix) at the Aerospace Technology Day Ceremony on 3 February. A mock-up of the 27 m, two-stage Simorgh SLV was displayed with its payload fairing.

The Simorgh’s first-stage engines consist of a cluster of four liquid-fuelled engines and a supporting structure that connects the engines to the first-stage rocket body. This is the first known use by Iran of a first-stage multi-engine rocket propulsion system.

If successful, the two-stage Simorgh will represent a major advance for Iranian rocketry, as it will have a payload capacity four times that of Iran’s previous generation Safir-2 SLV; the most reliable estimate is a 100 kg payload launched into a 500 km orbit.

This development in Iran’s rocketry has not been made alone. The first stage of the Simorgh strongly resembles the North Korean Unha-2, with four clustered engines and nearly the same dimensions. Despite the presence of four fins the Simorgh uses for stabilisation that are not present on the Unha-2, the similarity between the two suggests that North Korea likely provided assistance for Iran to develop at least the clustered engines.

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