By Allison Puccioni Jane's Image Analyst, California; Nick Hansen, Industry Expert in Imagery Analysis, California
Iran is rapidly and significantly expanding capabilities to accommodate larger missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs), including the Simorgh 3
SLV in construction at Semnan space centre, according to Jane’s analysis of satellite imagery of the site.
The construction begun in mid-2010 is aggressive even by Iranian standards, with a number of very complex facilities nearing external completion only months after they were started. The site is likely to assume operational readiness by 2013, judging by the pace of construction. Rapid construction – which prevents extended overhead analysis – could underscore the secretive nature of the site, the strategic importance of the facilities, and Iran’s inclinations towards space readiness.
The first new project is at the launch/engine test facility, where a launch pad or engine test stand is in the early stages of construction. The flame trench that funnels rocket blast exhaust away from the tower is roughly the same size and shape as one first identified by Jane’s in 2010, but is situated 73 m to the north.
Elements at the second site are identical to the flame trench and auxiliary pad at the first, but construction of the second tower had not commenced as of 9 March 2011. The first tower is still under construction but should be finished by the end of the year; that pace suggests that the second tower will likely be completed by 2013.
Although Jane’s previously suggested that this tower could be either a launch facility or engine test site, the towers will likely be used primarily for testing.http://126.96.36.199/products/janes/defence-security-report.aspx?ID=1065929216