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Iran's Space Science

Sounding Rocket Testing

“Kavoshgar” (Explorer) Vertical Probe Sounding Rocket Scientific Flights

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst,


Flights of the Kavoshgar Series:

1. Feb. 25, 2007 K-1, Shahab-3B, sub orbital sounding vertical probe rocket flight test

2. Feb. 4, 2008 Kavoshgar-1 / Ghadr-1 sub orbital sounding rocket flight test of five minute spaceflight

3. Feb. 4, 2008 Kavoshgar-2 / K-2 lasted some 40 minutes on it vertical probe spaceflight

4. February 3, 2010 Kavoshgar-3 / K-3 was about 15 minutes long on its vertical probe spaceflight from lift off to landing.

When Iran launched the Kavoshgar sounding rocket vertical probe a derivation of the Shahab-3C/Ghadr MRBM was said to have achieved an altitude of 200 kilometers with its scientific probe. The vehicle consisted of three parts with the rocket detaching between 90 and 100 seconds of flight returning to earth via ballistic trajectory. Whether the booster stage was recovered via parachute is questionable. The aero shell re-entry vehicle was also separated achieving 200 -250 kilometers in altitude and returned to earth via ballistic trajectory after 300 seconds in flight. The encapsulated probe continued to ascent to 200-250 kilometers orbital altitude but whether it separated from the aero shell re-entry vehicle is questionable and unlikely until parachute deployment at a lower altitude if at all. That scientific ballistic sounding rocket probe was designed to gather meteorological data returned information on the atmosphere, winds, temperature and pressure as well as the electromagnetic waves on its flight path and simultaneously made contact with the ground track station during its flight and returned to earth via ballistic trajectory with recovery by a parachute with in 300 seconds to 360 seconds. The launch of the Kavoshgar vertical probe was said to be a test flight leading up to the hoped for successful “Safir” flight with the future scientific research satellite, Omid (Hope), launch to orbit. This flight certainly constituted another successful flight test of the Ghadr ballistic missile indicating its duel purpose intent. Kavoshgar was not launched from the location of the new Safir space booster launch site but else where from this vast ballistic missile and space booster test infrastructure and artillery range. That facility is believed to be west of the space launch site and the support industrial zone.

Iran 's 3rd. Kavoshgar Vertical Probe

Iran is planning a vertical probe Kavoshgar (Explorer) #3 launch by a renamed Shahab-3C booster ballistic missile with biological capsule for a carrying living creatures into space. The sub-orbital flight is scheduled for its spaceflight utilizing it reentry vehicle for at the end of the current Iranian year on or before March 20, 2010 .

No-dong-A also called Shahab-3, 3A, 3B, 3C, & Ghauri-II MRBM

Solid Propellant Vertical Probes

Many of the solid propellant tactical missiles have also been utilized for vertical probe sounding rocket testing in both scientific and military duel purpose missions. See: for further information on those launch vehicles.

Kavoshgar-3 Sounding Probe Launch

© C. P. Vick 2010 All Rights Reserved

May 21, 2010

Iran on February 3, 2010, (their National Space Technology Day), launched the Kavoshgar-3 / Explorer-3 vertical probe sound rocket on a sub-orbital flight rising some 77.68 kilometers 125 miles with a experimental life sciences bio-capsule. It carries live instrumented animals living creatures including a rat, turtle and worms specimens for biomedical testing during the few minutes of powered & weightless ballistic spaceflight. The capsule sent back basic data from the specimens and their response to the launch and space environment. It landed by parachute within a few miles of the launch site with in 15 minutes of liftoff.

The tactical Fateh-110 Battlefield Rocket mounted on a launch rail mounted on a truck launcher parked on a 45 degree inclined dirt pile to give the rail launcher near vertical angles from the ground. Its first stage lasted 90 seconds before separation after liftoff of the 3 meter long research rocket and capsule with it research module which was parachuted back to a relatively soft landing.

Kavoshgar / Explorer - Vertical probe sound rocket on a sub-orbital flight:

Iran's space program is in fact using two different launch vehicles from the military for their vertical probes sounders. Those are the Liquid propellant Shahab-3C and the solid propellant tactical Fateh-110 Battlefield Rocket.

FATEH-110 (Mushak-120)

Range Kilometers 130 -170
Diameter Meters 0.450-0.610
Height Meters 8.9
Stages   1
Launch Mass Kilograms 2,450
Warhead Mass Kilograms 500-600

Fateh-110 tactical missile


Range Kilometers 200-210
Diameter Meters 0.610
Height Meters 8.9
Stages   1
Launch Mass Kilograms 3.550
Warhead Mass Kilograms 500

Fateh-110A tactical missile

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:51:55 ZULU