Iran brings forward plan for manned space flight
Tehran, August 5, 2010
Iran plans to launch a manned spacecraft in seven years' time, two years earlier than its previous target, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday.
"In the near future we will be sending a communications probe into space whose lifespan will be one year," the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted him as saying in a live conversation on state television in the western city of Hamadan.
"The government has undertaken plans so that we would be sending a manned spacecraft into space in seven years."
Ahmadinejad said last month Iran would send its first manned shuttle into space by 2019. In February Iran test-fired a domestically-made satellite carrying rocket Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3).
Western countries suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs and are concerned the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could be used to launch warheads.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has always insisted its nuclear programme is for generating electricity.
In 2009, Iran launched a domestically-made satellite and put it into orbit for the first time. It said the Omid satellite was launched for peaceful telecommunications and research purposes. - Reuters