Iran successfully launched its Rassad-1 (Observation-1) satellite into orbit in June 2011.
Director of Iran Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli says the Islamic Republic plans to send human beings to half-hour space missions in four years.
In a Saturday interview, Fazeli pointed to Iran’s plans to send big animals, including chimpanzees, into the space in the near future and noted that the next phase of the project is to send human beings aboard a bio-capsule to a specific altitude into the outer space and returning them within less than 30 minutes.
The ISA director pointed out that that so far only three countries have achieved the know-how.
“The plan for sending and returning humans to and from the space will be carried out by the next four years and the plan for sending a human being into the space and putting him into the earth’s orbit will be launched in the next 10 years,” Fazeli said.
On Tuesday, the ISA announced that Iran will send animals into the space aboard a bio-capsule, code-named Pishgam (Pioneer), 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.
Due to biological similarities between humans and monkeys, the latter were selected for the forthcoming space mission.
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.