Iran launched its first domestically-produced Omid (Hope) satellite in 2009 onboard Safir (Ambassador) carrier. (File photo)
The director of Iran Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli says the country will soon send animals into the space aboard a bio-capsule as prelude to sending humans into the space.
Fazeli said on Tuesday that the space capsule, code-named Pishgam (Pioneer), has gone through final tests and will be launched during the 10-Day Dawn celebrations in early February 2013, which will mark the 34th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.
He added that because of biological similarities between humans and monkeys, the latter were selected for the forthcoming space mission.
Fazeli further highlighted that the plan to send animals into the space is part of a broader project to send human beings on space missions.
The ISA director stated that Iran’s first manned mission to space would be launched within the next five to eight years.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Fazeli said the indigenous Sharifsat satellite will be put into the orbit by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (ends on March 20, 2013).
Iran launched its first indigenous satellite, Omid (Hope), in 2009. The country also sent its first bio-capsule containing living creatures into the space in February 2010, using the indigenous Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) carrier.
In June 2011, Iran put the 15.3-kilogram Rasad (Observation) orbiter in space. Rasad's mission was to take images of the Earth and transmit them along with telemetry information to the ground stations.
Iran also launched Navid-e Elm-o Sanat (Harbinger of Science and Industry), another indigenous satellite, into the orbit on February 3, 2012.
The satellite was a telecom, measurement and scientific one, whose records were reportedly used in a wide range of fields.
Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was set up in 1959.