One day after implying that the test launch of Iran’s Simorgh orbital rocket on December 30th was actually a suborbital flight and was a success, that same official admitted yesterday that this was not true, that the plan had been to put three satellites in orbit, and that the launch was a failure.
Ahmad Hosseini, an Iranian defense ministry spokesman, revealed that the rocket failed to put its three payloads into orbit after the rocket was unable to reach the required speed, according to the news agency.
“For a payload to enter orbit, it needs to reach speeds above 7,600 (meters per second). We reached 7,350,” he said in a documentary broadcast on state TV.
It was Hosseini who claimed the launch was a success the day earlier, implying that the low speed was because the flight was intended to be suborbital. Either he knows nothing about rocketry (very likely), or is merely a mouthpiece who was ordered to change his story when the first story was laughed out of the room (also very likely).
The article at the link focuses on France’s condemnation of the launch, claiming it was a ballistic missile.
France’s foreign ministry said the launch was in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, Reuters reported. “We call on Iran not to launch further ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, including space launchers,” the ministry said.
Simorgh however is not a ballistic missile. Everything I have read about it suggests it is designed to put payloads in orbit, not deliver bombs to other parts of the globe. A ballistic missile is technically a very different thing. It usually uses solid rockets which can be stored for long periods and launched at a moment’s notice. Simorgh uses hypergolic fuels which — though they can be used on ballistic missiles — are rarely used for that purpose because of their toxic nature.
At the same time, these facts about Simorgh should not make us think Iran is not a threat. If you can develop the manpower and technical know-how to built an orbital rocket, you will also have increased your ability to build missiles. Iran is without doubt working to develop both.
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