Safir 1, 2 Booster

Iran First Satellite Booster

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst


Rev. 7


The Islamic Republic of Iran launched its first unmanned satellite into earth orbit late on February 2, 2009 UTC between 18:36-18:38 GMT . In so doing Iran became the ninth nation to launch its own satellite in honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. USSTRATCOM has issued numerous two line elements of two objects with object-A usually the satellite in approximately a 245 X 378 km orbit at an inclination of about 55.51 deg, with a period of orbit of about 90.76 minutes. The rocket stage Object-B was apparently placed in a slightly higher orbit of 245 X 440 kilometers with a period close to 91.38 minutes at an inclination of 55.55 degrees.  Actually 90.7 minutes, 55.71 degrees, 381.2 x 245.5 km

Safir-1, 2 Iranian Launch Vehicle

Safir Technology

The Safir space booster appears to be little more than a compacted redesigned better performance version of the North Korean Teap’o-dong-1 design. Its probable payload capacity of less than 30 - 50 kg strongly indication it is a proof of principal pathfinder development launch vehicle that will give Iran two and eventually three stage experience with liquid propellant launch vehicle technology. Iran has already demonstrated three stage operations with the solid propellant Ghadr-110/Ashura program 2,000km range designed now being deployed to replace the liquid propellant Shahab-3B, 3C/Ghadr now being produced at a rate of 75 a year as it is already deployed. The Shahab-3B, 3C/Ghadr-1 design has a 2,000 km range performance. A variation on the Shahab-3C/Ghadr-1 called the Kavoshgar-1 was the sounding rocket successfully launched February 4, 2008 . All of these systems owe their heritage to the Scud based technologies and the follow on No-dong-A and Taep’o-dong-1 launch vehicles of North Korea . It has an undeniable heritage to the Iranian military Shahab-3, 3A, 3B and subsequent 3C strategic ballistic missiles that are among the most powerful missile deployed except for the 4,000 kilometer range No-dong-B in Iran ’s arsenal. First stage burn to about 68 km altitude

Though Taep'o-dong-1 did use the Scud-B propellants in its No-dong-A first stage it definitely used a Scud-ER variant as its second stage with step-throttle capability the so called DPRK design for the Unha-1 was and is the Iranian Safir-1, 1B class booster using Scud-C and Qiam-1 propellants as discussed below. The significance is that Iran has managed to transition to a more capable propellant combination than that used in the No-dong-A series.

Both the Scud-C and the Qian-1 and Safir-1, 1B launch vehicles have successfully transitioned from the Scud-B propellants as noted from Soviet manuals which is TM-185 20% Gasoline, 80% Kerosene while its oxidizer is believed to be AK-27I 27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3 with Iodium inhibitor Nitrogen Tetroxide & amp; Nitric Acid. The new propellant combination for the single stage Scud-C and Qiam-1 as they are known from Soviet Naval references manuals to be Unsymmetrical Dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) while its oxidizer is known to be a derivation of Inhibited Red Fuming or white fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA), (73% Inhibited Red Fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA) & 27% N204 = AK-27S).

Safir-1, 2 IRILV Data

Height ~22 Meters two stages plus shroud
Height 72.18 feet two stages and three stages
Diameter 1.35 meters?
Diameter 4.43 feet?
Launch Mass 26 tonnes m
Launch Mass 57,330 lbs m
1 St. Launch Thrust ? tonnes f
1 St. Launch Thrust ? lbs f with one engine
1 St. Altitude Thrust ? tonnes f
1 St. Altitude Thrust ? lbs f with one engines
2 nd. Stage Thrust ? tonnes f vacuum?.
2 nd. Stage Thrust ? lbs f vacuum with two thrust chambers set on swivel gimbal mounts and one auxiliary pump engine from No-dong-B.
Control engines thrust ? tonnes f vacuum
Control engines thrust ? lbs f
Propellants = Oxidizer AK-27S, Inhibited Red Fuming or white fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA), (73% Inhibited Red Fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA) & 27% N204 = AK-27S)
Propellants = Fuel Unsymmetrical Dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH)
Payload capacity 27 kilograms 59.54 lbs m to 250 -500 kilometer low earth orbit

Engineering Model Estimated Performance

The two stage Safir launch vehicle weighing in at over 26 metric tonnes riding on the first stage single engine thrust for 90-120 seconds with a length of about 22 meters and a diameter of 1.35 meters has about 10,000 parts in its design according to the Iranians aerospace organization. The first stage is assumed to have shut down somewhere in the 20-25 km distance down range at an estimated altitude of 22- 42.26 miles with first stage impact 250-300 km down range. The first stage burn was perhaps less than 90 -120 seconds to an altitude of about 68 kilometers. Shroud separation is presumable at 150 seconds in flight at greater than 100 km altitude [152 km’s (94.64 miles)]. Its second stage step throttle probably operated at a higher rating for maybe 50 seconds and then went to a lower setting where thrust equal mass roughly 65% thrust rating at first for 120-125 seconds. That is on the order of 300 seconds to orbit not including coast staging sequences times which is similar to that of Taep’o-dong-1’s, which took 293 seconds to achieve orbit. This tends to suggest that the Safir has and is indeed a highly redesigned improved compacted Taep’o-dong-1 design heritage. It is reasonably understood that the Iranians did indeed purchase a Taep’o-dong-1 class booster for engineering study but rejected using its failed design. The launch gee’s acceleration were indeed slower for liftoff on the order of 1.25-1.3 gee’s based on the launch video imagery. Both liquid propellant stages are assumed to be using the same Scud-B propellant combinations.

The TVC - thrust vectoring control - appears very limited in one axis before running into interference with surrounding existing hard and flexible piping and other apparatus equipment including throttle controls plus the apparent limited Soviet style attitude control thruster lines pipe roll control thrusters that are apparent in existing images. Unfortunately such a system offers very limited control of the second stage and probable contributed to the first two launch flight test failures. The lack of an apparent two axis gimbals mounted thrust chambers capability is reasonable apparent.

Omid [Hope] “Light Weigh Satellite”

The ten year research and development project was fulfilled with the Omid [Hope] in Farsi satellite orbiting. It is a limited life technology development test repeater telecommunications satellite package which has an estimated mass on the order of 50-100 kilograms. Called “Omid” (Hope) makes approximately six passes over Iran daily with 15 orbits of earth every 24 hours. Completion of the ten year research and development project was mandated to be completed before March 20, 2009 . Initially it was expected to be placed in a high inclination orbit (perhaps an expected inclination of 62-64 degrees instead of the 55.51 degrees with a 650 kilometer circular obit altitude not achieved with this launch. The rectangular box shaped satellites has no solar arrays only batteries with insulation both internally and externally visible (as like in the engineering models currently displayed in photographs and broadcast on national television). The internal black box instrumentation is design for gathering atmospheric data and communications task from low Earth orbit with eight external transmitting receiving antennas’. There is no obvious active satellite attitude control system and no obvious solar arrays on the outer shell indicating a battery powered short life satellite. It contains many black box instruments with telecommunications equipment and one for satellite control, a power supply system, a remote sensing instrument, a satellite telemetry system and a geographic information system giving it a mass in the 50-100 kilogram range as expected. Actually 27 kilograms. 40 cm cube shaped satellite Sven Grahn of the Kettering group has recorded signals from the satellite being transmitted on two frequencies bands 465.0 MHz and 401 MHz. UHF Video and other published information suggest that Iran has at least five to six ground receiving and sending stations nation wide.

The “Safir" (Emissary) IRILV [Islamic Republic of Iran Launch Vehicle] two stage satellite launch vehicle in its present configuration first stage was expected to impact about 300-350 km or so down range from the launch site within Iran existing missile test range. The first stage consist of a lengthened up-rated Shahab-3C/Ghadr toped with a same diameter second stage both of which use the same common highly toxic storable Scud-B propellants TM-185/AK-27I.

The two thrust chamber step throttled second stage is believed derived from the one altitude thrust chamber Scud-ER propulsion system design used by the North Koran Taepo-dong-1 launch vehicle. This short stocky Safir second stage uses a common bulkhead between the propellant tanks along with an open cycle single turbo pump to drive the propellants to the two main altitude thrust chambers and multiple attitude control thrusters that feature’s a centerline turbine exhaust thrust chamber. After flying out of Iran and over the south western corner of Pakistan it will impact perhaps some 1,500-2,000 km down range from the launch site over the Arabian Sea with orbital insertion to take place over the Indian Ocean.

Safir (Emissary) IRILV Islamic Republic of Iran Launch Vehicle Safir Flight Record, Iranian Satellite Programs


1. Unknown
pre Omid Engineering satellites
1A Omid-X
Launch failure 2-4-08
1B Omid XI
Launch failure 8-16/17-08
2. Omid-1
27 kgs
245 x 387 kms orbit
55.5 degrees inclination
successfully orbited 2-2-09
3. Rasid-1
15 kgs

243 x 292 kms orbit
55.7 degrees inclination
successfully orbited 6-15-11
4. Rasid-2
Status unknown
5. Fajr-1
Launch failure 5-23, 2012
6. Fajr-2


Launch failure 9-22, 2012
7. Fajr-3
Launch Failure 2-17/18, 2013
8. Navid-ST
50 kg
250 x 375 kms
55 degrees inclination
successfully orbited 2-3-12
9. Pars-2
695 kms SSO
Status unknown
10. Mesbab-2
65 kgs
Status unknown
11. Masude-2
Status unknown
12. Aut-Sat/Test-A
500 kms
Status unknown
13. Zafar
90 kgs
500 kms
55 degrees inclination
Status unknown
14. Nahid
50 kgs

250 x 370 kms
55 degrees inclination
Status unknown
15. Toloo
80-100 kgs
Status unknown
Status unknown
 17. Sharif
 <50 kgs
 350-500 kms
 18. Tadbi rupgrade Navid-ST
50 kg
250 x 375 kms
55 degrees inclination

The satellite, code-named Meshbah (lantern), was shown on TV. Described as being purely for civil purposes store dump COMSAT, it was said to weigh 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and is cube-shaped which each side measuring 50 centimeters (20 inches). It will be put into orbit at an altitude of 900 kilometers (about 560 miles). "The satellite will be used to identify natural resources, control the electrical and energy network (gas and oil), and later on can be used by communications and crisis management," press reports said. The head of the Islamic republic's Scientific and industry Research Center, Seyed Mohammad Fathi, said the project would allow Iran to develop other satellites in the future. This first Meshbah satellite has yet to be launched but the second one was launch as the Shinah-1/Meshbab-2 on October 27, 2005 on the Russian Cosmos C-1 booster from the Plesetsk, Cosmodrome. Information on the Russian contracted Zehreh COMSAT remains unclear as does the Iranian ZS4, MS2S, Besharat and Sepehr satellites all expected by the end of 2010 or soon afterwards. Iran also contributed to the Asian Research Satellite launched in 2008

Speculation on Growth Potential Sigmorgh-3 Systems Design

 Iranian liquid propellant launch vehicle family

Comparisons North Korean (DPRK) and Iranian ballistic missiles & Space boosters through 2013

The potential evolution of the Simorgh Family of boosters leading to possible manned spaceflight and a full range ICBM development would be consistent with previous development s in other countries.

Safir Block-II Class Space Booster

It also revealed indirectly on June 8, 2010 that Safir Block-2 with three stages will fly in 2011 while the Simorgh-3 IRILV Booster is expected to fly in 2012.


13. Press TV, Iran Prepares to launch satellite,, Aug. 23, 2008, 18:18:38 GMT. P. 1.

14. Reuters, Iran plans to launch telecoms satellite: President, , Aug. 23, 2008 , 1:03 pm EDT , pp. 1-2.

(15). Strategy Page, Iran And the Paper Submarine,, Aug 26, 2008 , pp. 1-2.

16. Iran Will Soon Launch 16-Engine Rocket - President,, (source BBC Monitoring Newsfile from FARS News Agency website, Tehran), September 25, 2006 p. 1.

17. Iran "fires second space rocket", , BBC, 15:50 GMT November 26, 2008, pp. 1-2.

18. Iran To Send Animals Into Space, Tehran, Iran RIA Novosti,, Dec 03, 2008, p.1.

19. Iran to Send Satellite into Orbit by March 20, Fars News Agency. Wed . January 28, 2009, p. 1. and

24. Gertz, Bill, How the “axis” seeks the killer missile, The Washington Times, January 30, 2007 , p. ?

30. N. Korea Colud ExportICBM Capability To Iran, Middle East Newsline, Washington, Dec. 24, 2008 p.1

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