How Big Is Your Rocket?
There's a new global space race on, as countries spend billions to join the nine that have successfully launched rockets into orbit. Here's a look at four of the contenders.
Status: Confirmed launch
Status: Confirmed launch
Height: 22 m
Diameter: 1.25 m
Mass: 26,000 kg
Liftoff thrust: 361.2 kilonewtons (estimated in stage 1)
Budget: About $100 million per year
The Iranian Space Agency was established in 2004 and opened a space center in February 2008. A year later, the program drew headlines by launching its Safir-2 rocket, which carried the Omid satellite into space.
Status: Launch planned for 2011
Height: 19 m
Diameter: 1 m
Mass: 50,000 kg
Liftoff thrust: 1,049 kN
Budget: About $150 million per year
Brazil has been attempting to develop a space rocket since the 1960s. Its early Sonda models succeeded, but the program has since met with failure. Two VLS-1 prototypes failed, and in 2003, a third blew up on the launchpad, killing 21 people.
Rocket: Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, also known as Naro-1
Status: Launch scheduled for mid-August
Height: 33.5 m
Diameter: 2.9 m
Mass: 140,000 kg
Liftoff thrust: About 1,800 kN
Budget: About $250 million per year
South Korea has been producing military rockets since 1993, but only recently has it begun to focus on developing a domestic space program. Interestingly, it has been getting help not from its usual ally the United States, but from Russia, where the first South Korean astronaut trained.
Rocket: Taepodong-2 (TD-2)
Status: Unconfirmed launch
Height: About 35 m
Diameter: 2.2 m
Mass: 78,000 kg
Liftoff thrust: 570 kN
Budget: $300 million, est., for recent launch
In 1998, the state-run Korean Central News Agency claimed the launch of the first North Korean satellite, Kwangmyongsong-1, via a three-stage TD-1 rocket. More recently, the country has claimed a number of other satellite launches, but analysts say these might simply be a cover for missile testing.
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