Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) head Reza Taghipour said Wednesday that Iran will send its first astronaut to space within the next decade, the official Fars news agency reported. He claimed fervent research was currently being conducted on the matter.
"Iran is currently exploring the possibility of sending a human into outer space. This is one of the country's priorities for the next 10 years," Taghipour said. He added that the exact date for the travel of the first Iranian spaceman will be set within six months.
"In accordance with a program that we have developed, by 2021 Iran is to become the leading space power in the region," he said. "A ten-year program for the achievement of this end has been prepared and one of its products is the launching of the final satellite launcher."
Despite Iran's claims that it had successfully launched a dummy satellite into space earlier this week, Western experts claim the launch was a failure. According to a US Army official the part of the rocket intended to carry the satellite in the future had detached during the test.
According to Taghipour, one of the more significant aspects of the space program is the construction of rockets able to launch satellites into space, a capability few countries can boast.
"For the peaceful use of space, Iran has cooperated with Russia and Italy, and this will be continued in the future," he said, but qualified the statement by adding that Iran would rely solely on itself for the production of the rockets.
The 'Omid' satellite was 10 years in the Iranian making, and in February of 2007 the Islamic Republic joined the international space community when it successfully launched a rocket into orbit. This significant technological leap bolstered concern among Western forces attempting to curb the country's nuclear advances.