[FPSPACE] Rock the Mesbah
cpvick at globalsecurity.org
Thu Dec 30 16:40:36 EST 2004
Shahab-3B Improvements Leading to the Shahab-4/Mesbah-1 Space-Strategic
C Charles P. Vick 2004
Although the article is interesting it was perhaps interpreted wrongly.
The Shahab-3B still has the same exact 16 meter height but the
propellant tank-age has changed about 1 meter in total length divided
between the oxidizer and fuel tanks. The further reductions down in size
thanks to the PRC Chinese Aerospace industry help with the new lighter
accuracy inertial guidance package and lowering the mass of the nuclear
warhead prototype to 650 kilograms from the No-dong-B program of North
Korea has in part helped increase its range performance. Both the
No-dong-B and Shahab-3B appear to have the same nuclear warhead
prototype RV design. Most of the guidance instrument package remains
with the warhead. Whether Iran has in fact deployed its first six
nuclear warheads of twenty to twenty six initially expected is not
certain but strongly suspected and expected by some time early next
The 20-60 kilograms payload suggested is in the Taep'o-dong-1 three
stage class booster which Iran had purchased and received several years
ago that they then evaluated and improved leading to the expected
Shabab-4. Indeed the Shahab-3B duplicated the Taep'o-dong-1 first stage
performance specification except that they maintained the Shahab-3A, 110
second burn time over the 95 second of Taep'o-dong-1 design. This
improvement to the Taep'o-dong-1 design will make the Shahab-4 or what
ever they end up calling it Mesbah-1.
The two upper stages to be added to the Shahab-3B could be a step
throttled Sam-2/Scud-B variant used by North Korea and an identifiable
Chinese Solid motor or two Solid motor for the second and third stages.
Although the Solid motor third stage is almost certain to be
incorporated in the design it is questionable if they will use this
rapidly advancing solid motor technology for the second stage. At the
same time the Shahab-4 first stage may also utilize solid motor
Interest continues to focus on the Iris two stage design which has not
been shown publicly for some time now that uses a Shahab-3B first stage
with a second stage solid motor with a bulbous payload shroud as a
satellite or sounding rocket launcher. Iris may in fact have evolved
into the Shahab-4 design. This could be in part questioned but would
work excellently on the Taep'o-dong-2A as its second and third stages.
However it is believed that North Korea has abandoned this 2A and 2B
design in favor of the Taep'o-dong-2C design full range ICBM based on
the No-dong-B technology, which is based on the Soviet era
SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 technology in their hands since 1988. It certainly
explains the delay in the appearance of the Taep'o-dong-2 appearance.
Iran continues to try and obtain the so called Taep'o-dong-2, 2A, 2B and
2C final design from North Korea with its apparent two meter diameter
first stage based on the launch pad diameter which will give them a
payload capacity in the 250-500 kilogram range depending on the orbit.
More later on.
Suggested background viewing:
Venter, Al J., Iran's Nuclear Options: Tehran's Quest for the Atom Bomb,
Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors of Philadelphia, LLC, Dec.
2004, 480 pages.
Charles P. Vick
From: fpspace-bounces at friends-partners.org
[mailto:fpspace-bounces at friends-partners.org] On Behalf Of DwayneDay
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 4:44 PM
To: fpspace at friends-partners.org
Subject: [FPSPACE] Rock the Mesbah
With the holidays upon us and television in reruns I have been spending
my free evenings plowing through an alarmingly large pile of recent (and
old) clippings from both Aviation Week and Space News.
The December 6 issue of Space News (page 4) has an interesting article
speculating that the Iranians will try to launch their first satellite
in the first half of 2005.
The article consists of several interviews with Middle East rocket
experts, particularly in Israel (where they tend to care about Iran's
missile capabilities a bit more than the rest of us). The article
states that hard information is nearly impossible to get because of
Iranian secrecy, where the missile program is run by the Revolutionary
The satellite under development is known as Mesbah and there are reports
that it could weigh 60 kilograms and orbit at 900 kilometers. However,
other reports put it at 20 kilograms and orbit at 250 kilometers.
Israeli analysts pick the lower figures based upon estimates of the
capabilities of Iranian rockets. They have determined that a modified
Shahib-3 missile is about 1 meter longer than its predecessor, allowing
it to carry about 15 percent more propellant. They think that the
satellite launcher will be based upon this Shihab-3B with two upper
stages. Some more info can be found at the Middle East Missiles Monitor
The people interviewed by Space News are rather dismissive of a 20 kg
satellite, saying that it cannot do much more than beep. Even a 60 kg
satellite is too small for remote sensing. They point out that Israel's
remote sensing satellites weigh 300 kg and are very advanced, so it is
unlikely that the Iranians can get much out of a smaller satellite.
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