Military Review

Spaceport world. Part 3



Another Asian giants actively developing their missile technology is India. This is primarily due to the improvement of the nuclear missile potential in the confrontation with China and Pakistan. At the same time, national space programs are being implemented.

Spaceport world. Part 3

Indian launch vehicles

In the south of Andhra Pradesh, on the island of Sriharikot in the Bay of Bengal, an Indian Satish Dhavan Space Center was built.

It is named after the former head of the space center, after his death. The spaceport belongs to the Indian Space Research Organization. Proximity to the equator is one of the undoubted advantages of the cosmodrome. The first launch from the spaceport took place on July 18 1980 of the year.

Launch of ASLV Indian Light Booster

There are two launch pads at the cosmodrome and a third is under construction. In addition to launch complexes for various missiles, there is a tracking station at the cosmodrome, two assembly and test complexes, and special stands for testing rocket engines. A rocket fuel plant was built on the territory of the cosmodrome.

Google Earth Satellite Image: Launcher at the Shriharikot Cosmodrome

From the launch site, the following launches are carried out: ASLV light type, 41000 kg starting weight and GSLV heavy type, starting weight up to 644 750 kg.

India is one of the very few space powers that independently launches communications satellites into geostationary orbit (first GSAT-2 - 2003 year), returning spacecraft (SRE - 2007 year) and automatic interplanetary stations to the Moon (Chandrayan-1 - 2008 year ) and provides international launch services.

GSLV launch vehicle transported to launch position

India has its own manned space program and is expected to start manned space missions on its own with 2016, and become the fourth space superpower. Great help in this provides Russia.


The largest Japanese spaceport is the Tanegashima Space Center.

The cosmodrome is located on the southeast coast of Tanegashima Island, in the south of Kagoshima Prefecture, 115 km south of Kyushu. It was founded in 1969, and is operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Google Earth Satellite Image: Tanegashima Spaceport »

Here they collect, test, launch and monitor satellites, as well as test rocket engines. From the cosmodrome, heavy Japanese heavy launch vehicles H-IIA and H-IIB are launched, starting mass up to 531 000 kg.

H-IIB launch vehicle launch

These are the main launch vehicles launched from the cosmodrome, in addition to them from here they also launch light geophysical rockets intended for suborbital scientific research.

Launch pad for H-IIA and H-IIB missiles - includes two launch pads with service towers. PH H-IIA - transported and installed on the site in a fully assembled.

The second spaceport in Japan is the Utinoura Space Center. It is located on the Pacific coast near the Japanese city of Kimotsuki (formerly Utinoura), in Kagoshima Prefecture. The construction of the Space Center for experimental launches of large rockets was launched in 1961, and completed in February of 1962. Until the formation of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2003, it was designated as the Kagoshima Space Center and worked under the auspices of the Institute of Cosmonautics and Aeronautics.

Satellite image of Google Earth: Cosmodrome "Utinoura"

There are four launchers on the spaceport. From the Cosmodrome "Utinoura" start solid fuel boosters of a light class "Mu", starting weight up to 139000 kg.

They were used for all launches of Japanese spacecraft for scientific purposes, as well as geophysical and meteorological rockets.

launch rocket Mu-5

Replacing the Mu-5 should come Epsilon rocket, which, although it can bring to a low near-earth orbit a slightly smaller payload than the Mu-5, but should be much cheaper.

Japan, in addition to launching commercial and scientific satellites, has participated in a number of international programs. RN Mu-5 launched satellites for the study of Mars "Nozomi" and SC "Hayabusa", investigated the asteroid "Itokawa". The last launch, during which the Solar-B and HIT-SAT satellites, as well as the SSSAT solar sail, were launched into orbit, cargoes are delivered to the ISS using the H-IIB PH.


After the French Kourou, another South American spaceport was the Brazilian Alcantara Launch Center, in the north of the Atlantic coast of the country. It is located even closer to the equator than the French Kourou.

Attempts by Brazil to develop its own space programs, due to lack of experience, low scientific and technological base did not lead to the desired result.

Brazilian VLS-1 booster

The next tests of 22 August 2003 of the Brazilian lightweight VLS-1 carrier rocket ended in tragedy. The rocket exploded on the launch pad two days before launch.

The explosion killed 21 people. This incident has adversely affected the entire Brazilian space program.

Satellite image starting position of the Alcantara cosmodrome after the explosion

Unable to build their own efficient launch vehicles, Brazil is trying to develop the spaceport in the framework of international cooperation. In 2003, contracts were signed for the launch of Ukrainian launch vehicles Cyclone-4 and Israeli Shavit. There are plans to conclude similar contracts in relation to the Russian "Protons" and the Chinese "Great Trek - 4".


At the Palmachim airbase, located near the Kibbutz Palmachim, near the cities of Rishon LeZion and Yavne, a launch center was built to launch Shavit missiles and other missiles. The first launch took place on September 19 1988. Missile launches are carried out not in the east, as in the absolute majority of space centers, but in a westerly direction, that is, against the rotation of the Earth. This, of course, reduces the weight thrown into orbit. The reason for this is that the launch route can be laid only over the Mediterranean Sea: the land to the east of the base is densely populated, and at the same time the neighboring countries are located quite close.

Israel launched a space program in connection with defense needs: both for obtaining intelligence data (tracking a probable enemy with the help of satellites) and for creating missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

night launch of the Shafit launch vehicle

The Israeli Shavit rocket launcher is a three-stage solid-fuel rocket. The first two steps are identical, have a weight of 13 and each are mass-produced in Israel by the concern “IAI”. The third stage was built by Rafael and weighs 2,6 tons. The Shavit launch vehicle was launched from 1988 to 2010 eight times a year. This missile can be used as a carrier of a nuclear warhead. With the help of the Shavit rocket, the Israeli reconnaissance satellites Ofek are launched. Satellites "Ofek" ("horizon") developed in Israel concern "IAI". In total, nine Ofek satellites have been created by 2010.

The State of Israel has a developed radio-electronic industry, which allows you to create fairly advanced satellites for any purpose. But due to the small territory and geographical circumstances, in this country there is no possibility of building a cosmodrome, from which it would be possible to launch missiles safely along effective paths. Telecommunication and scientific Israeli satellites are launched into orbit during commercial launches of foreign launch vehicles from spaceports abroad. At the same time, Israel is demonstrating a desire to develop its own space programs and to launch military satellites into orbit using their own launch vehicles. In this regard, negotiations are under way with a number of states, primarily with the United States and Brazil, on the possibility of launching Israeli missiles from spaceports located on their territory.


The Iranian cosmodrome "Semnan" has been operating since February 2 2009, when the Iranian satellite Omid was launched into orbit using the Safir (Messenger) launch vehicle.

The spaceport is located in the desert of Deshte-Kavir (north of Iran), near its administrative center - the city of Semnan.

Iranian carrier rocket "Safir"

The Safir light class launch vehicle was created based on the Shahab-3 / 4 medium-range combat ballistic missile.

Google Earth Satellite Image: Launch Site of the Semnan Cosmodrome

The Semnan cosmodrome has shortcomings and limitations due to its location, as a result of which the Iranian Space Agency intends to begin construction of a second cosmodrome to launch spacecraft, which will be located in the south of the country.


At the beginning of 80-s in North Korea on the east coast, in the county of Hvade-gun of Hamgyon-Put-do province, construction of a missile range began, which later became known as the Tonkhe space center.

North Korean ballistic missiles

The choice of location of the landfill was influenced by such factors as sufficient remoteness from the demilitarized zone, minimizing the danger of missiles flying over the territory of neighboring countries, the general remoteness from large population centers, relatively favorable meteorological factors.

In the period from the middle of the 80-s to the beginning of the 90-s, a command center, a control center, a fuel storage facility, warehouses, a test stand were built, communications were modernized.

Initially, the 90-s began to conduct test launches of North Korean ballistic missiles here.

Satellite Image: Tonhe Spaceport

American and Japanese means of air defense and control over outer space repeatedly recorded launches of medium and long-range missiles from the Tonkhe space center.

Test launch of the “Unha-2” launch vehicle

Some of them were regarded as attempts to launch artificial satellites into orbit. According to the DPRK 5 news agency, on April 2009 of the year, the experimental artificial communication satellite Qanmenson-2 was launched from the launch site using the Unha-2 launch vehicle. Despite the controversial reports of sources from different countries, most likely, the launch of the satellite into orbit ended in failure.

Республика Корея

Construction of the South Korean cosmodrome "Naro", located near the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, on the island of Venarodo, began in August 2003 of the year.

25 August 2009 was launched from the launch site of the first Korean launch vehicle, called the Naro-1. The launch ended in failure - due to a malfunction in the separation of the radome, the satellite did not enter the calculated orbit. 10 June 2010, the second launch of the launch vehicle also ended in failure.

Google Earth Satellite Image: Naro Cosmodrome

The third successful launch of the Naro-1 launch vehicle (KSLV-1) took place on January 30 on the 2013 of the year, making South Korea the 11 space power.

Download to the launch pad launch vehicle "Naro-1"

The launch was broadcast live by local TV channels, the rocket reached a predetermined height and put the research satellite STSAT-2C into orbit.

Launch of "Naro-1"

The Naro-1 light class rocket, with a launch weight of up to 140 600 kg, was produced by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) in cooperation with Korean Air and the Russian Khrunichev Space Center. According to South Korean media reports, KSLV-1 on 80% repeats the Angara launch vehicle launched by the M. V. Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

The floating launch site "Sea Launch" ("Odyssey")

In 1995, the Sea Launch Company (SLC) consortium was established as part of international space cooperation. It included: the American company Boeing Commercial Space Company (a subsidiary of the Boeing aerospace corporation), providing general management and financing (40% of capital), the Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (25%), Ukrainian Yuzhnoye Design Bureau ( 5%) and software "Yuzhmash" (10%), as well as the Norwegian shipbuilding company Aker Kværner (20%). The headquarters of the consortium is in the California city of Long Beach. Russian Contractors of Transport Engineering Machine Building and Rubin Central Design Bureau were attracted as executors under contracts.

The idea of ​​the sea launch site is to deliver the launch vehicle by sea to the equator, where there are the best conditions for launching (the Earth’s rotation speed can be used as efficiently as possible). This method was used in 1964 — 1988 in the San Marco maritime cosmodrome, which was a fixed anchored platform near the equator in Kenyan territorial waters.

The sea segment of the Sea Launch complex consists of two sea vessels: the launch platform (SP) Odyssey and the assembly command ship (SCS) Sea Launch Commander.

Complex "Sea Launch"

The former self-propelled oil production platform “OCEAN ODYSSEY”, built in Yokosuka, Japan in 1982 — 1984, was used as a starting platform. The platform corresponded to the class for an unlimited navigation area. The platform was hit hard during the 22 September 1988 fire. After the fire, the platform was partially dismantled, and for its intended purpose it was no longer used. In 1992, the platform underwent repairs and refurbishment at the Vyborg Shipyard. It was decided to use it in the project “Sea Launch”. The Odyssey has very impressive dimensions: length 133 m, width 67 m, height 60 m, displacement 46 thousand tons.

Launch Platform "Odyssey"

In 1996 — 1997 at the Norwegian shipyard “Rosenberg” in Stavanger, special equipment for launches was mounted on the platform, and it became known as “Odyssey”. The second stage of the re-equipment of the joint venture took place at the Vyborg Shipyard.

The Sea Launch Commander assembly and command ship (SCS) was built specifically for the Sea Launch project by Kvaerner Govan Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland in 1997 year. The 1998 SKS was upgraded at the Kanonersky ship repair yard, St. Petersburg. The SCS is equipped with systems and equipment that allow for carrying out complex tests of the launch vehicle and upper stage, refueling of the upper stage with components of fuel and oxidizer, and assembly of the launch vehicle.

Assembly-command ship "Sea Launch Commander"

SCS also performs the functions of the MCC during the preparation and launch of the launch vehicle. On the ACS, the command station for flight control of the upper stage and the means for receiving and processing telemetry are located. Characteristics of SCS: length 203 m, width 32 m, height 50 m, displacement 27 thousand tons, maximum speed 21 node.

Google Earth Satellite Image: Sea Launch Complex at Long Beach Park

On the floating launch site “Sea Launch” is used carrier rocket: “Zenit-2S” and “Zenit-3SL” of the middle class, with a starting weight of up to 470,800 kg.

In Zenit, in contrast to many domestic PHs, toxic hydrosin and aggressive oxidizer are not used. Kerosene is used as a fuel, and oxygen serves as an oxidizing agent, which makes the rocket ecologically safe. In total, from 27 March 1999, to February 1, 2013, 35 launches were made from the floating platform.

The starting point is the Pacific Ocean area with coordinates 0 ° 00 ′ N 154 ° 00 ′ h. d., near Christmas Island. According to statistics collected over 150 years, this part of the Pacific Ocean is considered by experts to be the most calm and remote from sea routes. However, a couple of times already the difficult weather conditions made it necessary to postpone the launch time by several days.

Unfortunately, the Sea Launch program is currently experiencing serious financial difficulties, its bankruptcy has been announced and the future has not been determined. According to Kommersant, losses were caused by the fact that it was not possible to ensure the planned intensity of launches: initially it was planned to carry out consecutive launches in one way to the starting position on the 2-3. Also, the low reliability of the Zenit PH played a negative role; from 80, the launch of Zenit launch vehicles - 12 ended in an accident.

The head of the Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia, Vitaly Lopota, proposed transferring control of the Sea Launch project to the state. And to start with it within the framework of the Federal Space Program. However, the government of the Russian Federation sees no need for this.

Business representatives from a number of countries - China, Australia, the USA - are showing interest in the Sea Launch. There is interest from large companies such as Laceheed Martin. If desired, Russia could become the owner of this unique complex, making it its base, the ports of Sovetskaya Gavan, Nakhodka or Vladivostok.

Based on:Космодром
All satellite images courtesy of Google Earth.
Articles from this series:
Spaceport world. Part 1
Spaceport world. Part 2
Spaceport world. Part 3

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  1. Kibalchish
    Kibalchish 6 January 2014 11: 56
    Thank you for the article! Glad for Japan!
  2. Takashi
    Takashi 6 January 2014 12: 09
    surprised by the Sea Launch program. What is easier, to lead the platform into a thread a quiet bay at the equator and carry out launches.! No. These go to the open sea. :) :) :)

    The article is good, but more material
    1. Bongo
      7 January 2014 08: 20
      Thank you, glad you liked it! Unfortunately, the article format is limited to 8 pages of Word, more moderators do not miss, so it turns out quite concisely. Although the topic in my opinion is very interesting and deserves more attention.
      1. badger1974
        badger1974 9 January 2014 11: 56
        no doubt, the topic is extremely broad, the "sea launch" program with "zenith" in the lead role was especially interested, the trick is that only a little more than 10 percent of the launch was successful, up to 30 of the customer's satellites were ditched, the latest images show that this complex is being consumed by itself yourself, or maybe MS should be given a special topic, here, as they say, let's touch on the topic of our Yuzhmash? thanks for the article
  3. katran666
    katran666 6 January 2014 14: 29
    [quote = Takashi] surprised Sea Launch program. What is easier, to lead the platform into a thread a quiet bay at the equator and carry out launches.! No. These go to the open sea. :) :) :)

    Remember our constant graters with the Kazakhs for launching from Baikonur, just guys trite save money. any tribe with a rag in the form of a flag, from this very bay on the equator does not wait for suckers to milk them
  4. komel
    komel 6 January 2014 21: 43
    Already, it is worth considering not only how to save your savings, but also how to increase them. What is good to invest in tomorrow may be unclaimed and outdated, not technological and depreciated. Many countries are already thinking about who will live in the near future on the moon and Mars. In my opinion, China will have bases on the moon in the near future. The first bases will be placed on the surface, but with expansion they will go deeper into the planet, improving living conditions and safety from external factors.
  5. konvalval
    konvalval 7 January 2014 00: 06
    Useful for general development.
  6. Hitrovan07
    Hitrovan07 7 January 2014 00: 56
    China can bear human sacrifices easier than other countries - it is clear, but whether there is enough money - most likely, China will be helped with money - it is necessary to work out "raw technologies" on someone.
    1. And Us Rat
      And Us Rat 7 January 2014 02: 39
      Quote: Hitrovan07
      ... most likely they will help China with money ...

      China has money like a fool wrapper, they are the second largest economy in the world today. China will help anyone you want.
      GDP by country for 2012 year (in millions of dollars):

      1 USA 15,684,750
      2 China 12,405,670
      3 India 4,684,372
      4 Japan 4,627,891
      5 Germany 3,197,069
      6 Russia 2,513,299

      China's budget for 2012 - 1.85 + trillion! dollars.
  7. zyablik.olga
    zyablik.olga 9 January 2014 03: 42
    We were pleased with the photos, especially satellite images. I wonder where the author finds them?
    1. Bongo
      9 January 2014 03: 47
      In Google Earth, of course, if you know what and where to look, you can see a lot of interesting things. wink
  8. cobalt
    cobalt 9 January 2014 07: 56
    I liked the articles very much, I was glad for the USSR, our space achievements were useful and are used in more than half of the space programs of countries that have cosmodromes, but there is also reason for sadness whether Russia will withstand competition in this area and whether its potential will be lost. This is the task for the Government.