Doubtless enthused by his country’s recent success in simian orbital technology, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday he was ready to be the second primate his country would send into orbit.
“I’m ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country’s scientists,” Ahmadinejad was quoted saying by the state-sponsored IRNA news agency.
Ahmadinejad is set to retire from politics later this year after his second term in office is up.
“Sending living things to space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian professional scientists,” he said, adding that “we should admit that some [powers] do not tolerate Iranian greatness and growth. Iranians have incited the devils’ hatred [because of] Iranian idealism, perfectionism, and being human.”
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 reportedly traveled 120 kilometers and safely returned to Earth, though there have been questions raised as to the success of the mission.
Iran’s space officials say Iran will launch a bigger rocket carrying a larger animal to obtain greater safety assurances before sending a man into space.
If Ahmadinejad is successful in his quest to be the first human astronaut sent up by Iran, he will join illustrious company: In addition to Iran’s monkey launch, which took place last Monday, in 2010 the Islamic Republic reportedly launched a rocket into space carrying a mouse, a turtle and worms.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.