Prior to the 2 February 2009 launch with Omid on board
|Function||LEO launch vehicle|
|Manufacturer||Iranian Space Agency|
|Country of origin||Iran|
|Height||22 m (72ft)|
|Diameter||1.25 m (4.10ft)|
|50 kilograms (110 lb)|
|Launch sites||Iran Space Center|
|Total launches||Orbital: 7|
|First flight||Suborbital: Orbital: 2008-08-17|
The Safir (Persian: سفیر, meaning "ambassador") is the name of the first Iranian expendable launch vehicle that is able to place a satellite in orbit. The first successful orbital launch using the Safir launch system took place on 2 February 2009 when a Safir carrier rocket placed the Omid satellite into an orbit with a 245.2 km (152.4 mi) apogee.
A sub-orbital test flight, named Kavoshgar-1 (Persian: کاوشگر ۱, "Explorer-1"), was conducted on 4 February 2008, as announced by state-run television. A launch on 25 February 2007, may also have been of the same type. The first flights carried instruments to measure the higher atmosphere. The rocket launched on 4 February 2008 was a liquid-propellant-driven rocket, probably a derivative of the Shahab-3, that reached an altitude of 200–250 km in space, and successfully returned science data according to the Iranian News Agency.
On 19 February 2008, Iran offered new information about the rocket and announced that Kavoshgar-1 used a two staged rocket. The first stage separated after 100 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute. The second stage continued its ascent to the altitude of 200 kilometres. However it was not intended to reach orbital velocity.
Earlier reports by the Iranian News Agency suggested that Kavoshgar-1 used a three staged rocket with the first stage separating after 90 seconds and the rocket reaching an orbit between 200 and 250 kilometres.
The successful development and launch of a sounding-space-rocket was already announced a year earlier, on 25 February 2007. It is unknown if the sounding rocket launched on 25 February 2007, and the rocket launched on 4 February 2008, are of the same type.
On 17 August 2008, Iranian officials reported that a Safir was launched successfully without a payload, in preparation for the launch of Iran's first indigenously launched satellite, Omid. Reza Taghizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, told state television "The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier was launched today and for the first time we successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit". As it was announced by Iran, a dummy satellite was put into a 650 km LEO passing over Iran six times every 24 hours.
According to an American official, "The vehicle failed shortly after liftoff and in no way reached its intended position." However, the video of the liftoff of the rocket was shown on the Iranian state television for several minutes. Iranian officials released a statement denouncing the allegations as propaganda and stated that Iran would soon launch the Omid satellite. Iran indeed launched the satellite on 2 February 2009, less than six months later.
On 2 February 2009, a Safir rocket conducted Iran's first orbital launch, with the Omid satellite. The two-staged launch vehicle named SAFIR-2 was 22 m long with a diameter of 1.25 m, weighing about 26 tonnes. The 27 kg Omid satellite was launched into an orbit with a 245.5 km perigee and 381.2 km apogee. The evidence is mounting that Safir-2 was more powerful and advanced than initially thought.
Iran has begun the development of the planned Block-II Safir booster intended to double its payload capacity with the intent to make it operational by some time in 2010. The launch vehicle is to acquire its increased payload capacity into low earth orbit through the addition of two Samen, solid motor strap-on boosters added to the Shahab-3C derived first stage and possible a new solid motor third stage added to the existing two-stage Safir space booster. The announcement of the development start on this booster was made on 14 April 2009 by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This booster is capable of placing satellite in 700-kilometre (430-mile) orbits or doubling its payload capacity. Iran is known to be combining these liquid propellant and solid motor technologies to the development of a more capable Safir block-II class space booster expected in 2010 with over twice the capability of the present Safir space booster. Iran is known to be working on a new, nearly all solid propellant boosters with a payload capacity of 330 kilograms to low earth orbit. On the maiden flight of the Safir-B rocket, designated Safir-B1, from a launch site in Semnan Province, Iran's third indigenous satellite, the 15.3 kg Rasad 1 was launched. The launch occurred at approximately 09:14 UTC on 15 June 2011 with the spacecraft reaching orbit several minutes later.
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