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  • Satellite Imagery Uncovers Iran's Progress Toward a new 'Mega Missile'
    Posted by David Eshel 2:53 PM on Mar 09, 2010

    Iran is constructing a new launch site in the space and missile test center in Semnan, located about 120 miles east of Tehran. The site has been under construction since 2008. It was first spotted in Eros-B satellite images released by in February last year.

    The images have shown extensive infrastructure developments that were absent from previous images taken by the Israeli and U.S satellites, published on Google earth in 2007.

    The new site is located east of the active site. The Iranians are constructing a new facility that could be supporting the Iranian solid rocket propulsion development, associated with the Sejjil, Ashura missiles, as well as larger missiles – such as the Simorgh rocket.
    Another site, prepared a few kilometers south of the new construction area seems to be abandoned.

    Satellite reconnaissance continues to monitor the site and the few images released to the public are showing rapid progress.

    Another image published by Defense-Update in November 2009 indicate a large gantry tower constructed at the launch site, with an associated launch pad, and fully constructed flame bucket diverting the missile's exhaust gases from the hillside.

    The launch site is linked through separate pipelines and channel lines to a nearby, sheltered underground facility located at the upper left hillside.

    New construction located close to the launcher, shown at the lower right side of the picture, could be a protected observation site to be provided with video and recording systems.

    blog post photo
    Photos: Imagesat via Defense-Update

    More recent images taken by the new WorldView 2 satellite were recently released by Jane's IHT.

    Based on the commercial satellite imagery obtained from DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, Jane's analysts are in agreement about the nature of the Iranian site.

    Jane's is estimating the dimensions of the gantry to measure 13 meters wide, approximately 18 – 20 meters tall, with the cliff-side flame bucket nearly as high as the tower itself.

    Jane's analysts assume the construction appears midway towards its completion. Although the tower is not yet tall enough to facilitate vertical assembly of the 27-metre Simorgh, analysts expect the launch pad could easily accommodate Iran’s new rocket if the gantry were to be extended by an additional 10 meters.

    blog post photo
    Photo: Digital Globe via Jane's IHS.

    Tags: ar99, Iran, missile

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