Iran flight tests new solid rocket motor

by Jeremy Binnie

Iran announced that it had tested a new satellite launch vehicle (SLV) called the Zoljanah for the first time on 1 February, saying it uses a new, more powerful solid-propellant motor.

The Zoljanah SLV before its launch from the Khomeini Space Centre. (Islamic Republic News Agency)

The Zoljanah SLV before its launch from the Khomeini Space Centre. (Islamic Republic News Agency)

The rocket was shown being launched from the pad at the Khomeini Space Centre in Semnan that is usually used for Safir SLV launches, but the first stage was not seen separating in what was described as a sub-orbital test.

The new SLV is 25.5 m long and weighs 52,000 kg, according to specifications shown on Iranian television. The first two stages are 150 cm in diameter and use solid propellant; the third has a 125 cm diameter and uses liquid fuel. The solid motor has a thrust of 74,000 kgf, enabling the SVL to put a 220 kg payload into a 500 km orbit.

Ahamed Hosseini, the spokesman for the ministry of defence’s aerospace department, said this is the most powerful solid motor developed by Iran and that it could be increased to about 100,000 kgf.

The solid motor has been developed because it provides more energy in a shorter time for the initial stages of an SVL than its liquid counterparts, which are more controllable and therefor better for the final stage, Hosseini added. The Zoljanah can also use a mobile launcher that can operate away from Iran’s space facilities so that different orbits can be reached, he said.

The US Department of State expressed concern about the test. SLVs pose a significant proliferation concern due to the fact that SLVs incorporate technologies identical to, and interchangeable with, those used in ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems,” a spokesperson said.

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Iran announced that it had tested a new satellite launch vehicle (SLV) called the Zoljanah for the f...

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