TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that he's ready to take the risk of being the first Iranian astronaut sent into space as part of Iran's goal of a manned space flight.
"I'm ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country's scientists," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying in an address to space scientists in Tehran.
Space tourist Anousheh Ansari was the first Iranian to make a journey into space aboard a Soyuz TMA-9 capsule from Baikonur, Kazakhastan, in September 2006. The 40-year-old telecommunications entrepreneur paid a reported $20 million for a space station visit. Her journey became an inspiration to women in male-dominated Iran.
Iran sent a monkey into space last Monday, describing the launch a successful step toward Tehran's plan to send an astronaut into space within the next five to six years. The monkey named "Pishgam," which means pioneer in Farsi, reportedly traveled 120 kilometers (72 miles) and safely returned to Earth.
In 2010, Iran said it launched an Explorer rocket into space carrying a mouse, a turtle and worms.
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