Iran to launch first astronaut in 2017

Iran will send its first astronaut into first-stage geostationary orbit at a height of 35,000 km in 2017, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today, RIA Novosti reports.


The Iranian president had said earlier that the first manned spaceship will be launched in 2019, instead of 2024. He said that pressure from the West and new resolutions have forced Iran to speed up its space program.


Moreover, Ahmadinejad said that in two years Iran will create a carrier rocket with better features than all the other types in the country.


The president recalled that in February 2009 the two-stage rocket carrier ‘Safir-2’ put the first Iranian satellite ‘Omid’ into orbit, at a height of 250 km. Next year it will reach 700 km and 1000 km the year after.


The Iranian Telecommunications Minister, Reza Tagipur, said that Iran plans to launch a new satellite, ‘Rassad-1’ (Observer), in the last week of August. The minister’s advisor, Mohammed Khoseyni, said in May that two telecommunications satellites will be launched this year.


The first test launch of the ‘Kavoshgar-1’ rocket, for research data and putting the first satellite into orbit, was in February 2008. In November 2008 Tehran launched ‘Kavoshgar-2’, carrying scientific equipment. It returned back to Earth after 40 minutes. Iranian media reported that the equipment measured the atmospheric pressure and wind speed at various heights.


On February 3rd 2010, Iranian news agencies reported that a capsule with ‘living organisms’ was launched with ‘Kavoshgar-3’. Western media reported that the capsule contained mice, turtles and worms. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and military authorities were at the launching ceremony. The project was being prepared for 2 years.


In February Iran also demonstrated the satellites, ‘Tolu’, Mesbakh-2’, the student research satellite ‘Mekhdi’ and the rocket carrier ‘Simorg’.


The rocket launches cause the West concern. Experts believe that Tehran is close to developing long-range ballistic missiles. The international community believes that Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, under cover of its national nuclear and rocket programs.

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