President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that Iran plans to send a man into space by 2019 as a blow to Western powers pressing Tehran over its nuclear programme, state news agency IRNA reported.
"Iran was due to send man into space by 2024 but in response to threats and Security Council resolutions against Iran, the plan was pushed forward by five years and the project will be launched in 2019," Ahmadinejad said.
Iran, which is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its continued uranium enrichment work, has been pursuing an ambitious space programme, firing rockets into space and building satellites.
In February Iran launched a home-built satellite carrying a rat, turtles and worms, in the face of Western concerns about Tehran using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons.
Telecommunication Minister Reza Taghipour said this month that Iran plans to launch a new satellite, Rasad 1, in the last week of August.
The minister had previously said that during the current Iranian year to March 2011, new satellites capable of transmitting data and images would be launched.
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