Iran plans manned spaceflight by 2021

February 12th, 2009 - 5:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Feb 12 (RIA Novosti) Iran would send its first man into space on board its own spacecraft by 2021, the head of Iran’s Aerospace Agency announced Thursday.
“Scientific research has already begun in Iran,” Reza Tagipur was quoted by Iranian media as saying. “According to our plans, a successful Iranian manned spaceflight will be carried out before 2021.”

“India and China were able to send their astronauts into space after 15 years of research and preparations. We will also go the same route, but believe we will achieve our goal in a shorter period,” he said.

Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a low Earth orbit Feb 2. The research satellite, which contains communications and digital equipment, was carried into orbit by a domestically made launch vehicle, Safir (Messenger).

With the February launch, Iran became the eighth country in the world able to independently put satellites into space, after Russia, the US, France, China, India, Japan, and Israel.

The US, France, Israel and Britain have already expressed concern over the launch, voicing suspicions that Tehran may be developing long-range ballistic missile technology that could be used to launch nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its space programme is entirely peaceful.

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