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Second “Safir-E Omid”

(Emissary of Hope)

Booster Orbital Launch Attempt

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)


Intelligence Wind Fall

The US was ready to receive the intelligence wind fall that the U.S. , U. K., and Israeli along with others national means capabilities provide. The US has over the horizon radar capability on its ships if a target time is known ahead of time as it was this time for both for radar and SIGINT operations. We probable detected the gantry going down as well as vehicle movements with COMINT galore on top of any telemetry feed. The SIGINT radio horizon is 5% below the local horizon as any radio satellite monitor knows so this was picked up from before and through launch. The pre-launch telemetry would have shown the whole launch program performance data expected, such as: Specific Impulse, thrust, fuel levels, Propellant mass data, angles of flight, staging timing, burn times, range, altitude and shroud separation, payload separation and payload data dumps as well as guidance and accelerometer data. The radar would have complemented much of this data showing the trajectory, velocity performance, burn times, staging altitude points, and shroud separation points of the flight and probable flight vehicle skin structures design performance details. Encrypted or not we have probable deciphered the telemetry enough to clarify issues. Of course it’s going to take weeks to compare and analyze all of this data to know what the details are and to better focus coverage operations for the next time an event occurs.

The Time Honored Intelligence Back grounder

Based on my experience with DoD intelligence back grounder briefings and based on the DoD intelligence background briefings probably run by the DIA information desk officer at the Pentagon and White House National Security office background briefings along with the press accounts -- it is possible to get a far better picture of what actually took place in flight. Knowing the present hardware design details and how it is apparently intended to perform, plus video and photo images released by Iran adds to the clarity of understanding.

Let us look at the time honored off the record back grounder. Quoting from the New York Times, “An administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said that the best American information indicated that the Iranian effort had failed, and that the rocket or the dummy satellite or both had broke up.” (1) then published that the Pentagon doubted that the Iranian rocket succeeded, “The Iranians did not successfully launch the rocket,” a senior U. S. defense official told CNN Monday.” and ….U. S intelligence assessment shows that the second stage “ was erratic and out of control,” said the official, …” and “The Rocket “did not perform as designed,” the official said.” And that it was monitored by “..the USS Russell in the Persian Gulf using its radar”. (2) The USS Russell is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer on patrol in the Persian Gulf region as Aviation Week noted along with the fact that several DSP satellites were in fact tracking the event activity showing that the “vehicle went out of control at high altitude, never completing its ascent profile.” (3) The SIGINT satellite must have been much focused on this event also. added that “The official added that the second stage of the rocket’s launch likely failed due to unspecified problems with the satellite carrier’s design.” according to the unidentified Department of defense official. (4) The Jerusalem Post reporter, staff described the Iranian attempted dummy satellite launch as a “dramatic failure” according to quotes from Reuters of a US official saying. The quote is as follows, “The vehicle failed shortly after liftoff and in no way reached its intended position. It could be characterized as a dramatic failure.” (5) Finally the New York Times and the News of Tacoma, Washington gave even more of the quote, “The U. S. officials, speaking on ground rules of anonymity to discuss intelligence reports, said the first stage of the missile performed successfully, but the second stage failed. It flew off wildly, they said, destroying the top of the missile and its nose cone.” (6) It is certainly not the nose cone already jettisoned earlier but surely must be the third stage payload.’s James Oberg indicated that the second stage and payload quoting from the DoD sources, had “reached an altitude above 500,000 feet, the missile failed and broke apart, the source said. The missile broke up when the second stage was firing…” and that the launch took place on August 16 th at about 23.30 Tehran time from the Semnan Range (7) (SEE the following URL for information of the Iranian test missile ranges

But “Strategy Page” suggest the following, “The reality, as monitored by the radars of U.S. warships off the Iranian coast, was a launch failure. When the missile reached an altitude of about 16 kilometers, it broke up as the second stage fired.” (15) That is 52,496.feet or close to 50,000 feet leaving open questions. Considering that is below the local naval radar horizon only accessible via OTH radar at a range of about 300-350 or more miles at sea level. Knowing further that the shorter North Korean Taep’o-dong-1 first stage separated at 35.9 km and 19.5 km down range after 94-95 seconds suggest to this author that 16 kilometers is the radar local horizon though we can pick it up 5% below the horizon or use OTHR capability. We also know the first stage completed its burn so that suggest that this altitude of failure suggestion is indeed wrong from this author’s perspective. This tends to suggest to this author that the failure was during the second stage burn well after first stage separation and that the second stage lost control and failed just before shroud separation at about 150 seconds a little beyond 100-110 km altitude. Thus ultimately it flew ballistic ally to about 500,000 feet well short of the expected ascent profile and required orbital velocity expectations.

Iran Correction of Its Press Coverage

According to Reuters, “The Safir satellite carrier rocket was launched today and for the first time we successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit,” Reza Taghizadeh told Iran ’s State Television. It was also stated by “a top Iranian official that told AFP that State media reports that the country’s first domestically – built satellite, called Omid (Hope), had been launched were not correct.” the media was mistaken. (11) Redorbit has consistently had good translations of Iran statements, and reported such as part of this text from the State – run Iranian TV channel on August 17, 2008 “[Taqizadeh]” Head of the Iranian aerospace organization referring to the Safir launch “…. Also the telemetry and telecomm and or remote control system which guide and control the rocket was successfully etc…” (12)

CPV 08-28-08

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:51:50 ZULU