Photo: AFP
Iran brings forward plan for manned space flight
Semi-official Mehr news agency quotes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying communications probe with lifespan of one year to be sent into space in seven years

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 program 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.



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