Iran outlines its ambitious plans for space exploration and a manned launch in next decade

As more nations enter space, the head of the Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) announced the country’s plans to send an astronaut into space within the next 10 years. Reza Taghipour announced the AIO will outline specific goals within the next six months, and said sending a man to space is "one of the country's priorities for the next 10 years."

"In accordance with a program we have developed, by 2021 Iran is to become the leading space power in the region," Taghipour announced during a press conference.

To prepare for its ambitious space program, the country will launch several domestic satellites into orbit in the next two years. The satellites will help provide natural disaster management, telecommunications and other basic uses. The Iranian space technology has been created mainly in-house, with the nation specifically focused on creating rockets able to carry satellites into orbit.

Iran recently claimed it launched a dummy satellite into orbit, but several nations, including the U.S., said the test was unsuccessful. Many nations are already concerned about a growing Iranian nuclear program, and a successful satellite launch will only add to concerns from the U.S., Great Britain, and other nations. Specifically, President Bush and U.S. military experts have shown concern that the rocket technology to launch satellites could be converted for possible military use, although Iranian space officials downplayed these concerns.

Only a small handful of nations have successfully launched satellites into orbit on their own, with regional rival India recently joining the select group. Furthermore, only the U.S., China and Russia have been able to launch manned missions on their own, however, India and Japan also have plans to launch manned missions in the future.

Iran has been working on its space program for the past few years, although has not had much to show for the program as of yet.

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