TEHRAN, Oct. 3 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iran plans to send astronauts into space and is currently conducting the relevant studies, Communications and Information Technology Minister Reza Taqipour announced on Saturday.
"This project is currently under study and... (we) hope to be able to implement the project in the near future," Taqipour said at a ceremony held to inaugurate World Space Week.
It is essential to adopt national strategies in order to successfully implement the project, he added.
He also explained the current status of the Mesbah satellite project and commented on the unsuccessful launch of a Mesbah satellite from a spaceport in a foreign country in 2005.
"One of our problems in the past was that (we) were not self-reliant in space technology. The Mesbah satellite project was undertaken in cooperation with foreign countries and we did not succeed in launching it," he said.
However, Iran plans to launch the satellite from a launch pad inside the country in the near future, he stated.
The date of the satellite launch will be announced after a series of research projects are conducted, he added.
In February 2003, Iran and Italy agreed to cooperate in the construction and launch of the Mesbah satellite. At that time, the first phase of the project, which resulted in the construction of a laboratory model of the satellite, had been completed. The Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and the Italy's Carlo Gavazzi Space company were joint partners in the project.
Iran also launched its first domestically manufactured satellite, which was named Omid (hope), into orbit on February 2, using a modified domestically manufactured long-range missile.
The satellite was designed to circle the earth 15 times every 24 hours and to send reports to Iran's space center. It broadcast over two frequency bands and had eight antennas for transmitting data.
Taqipour announced on May 1 that the Omid satellite probably entered the atmosphere around South America.
The satellite accomplished its mission and entered the Earth's atmosphere as it lost altitude, he added.
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