Iranian space agency eyes tie-up with Nasa
Published 04/10/2016 | 13:11
The head of Iran's space agency has said his country is interested in co-operating with Nasa.
Speaking at the start of World Space Week, Mohsen Bahrami said "many in the world look at Nasa's programmes. We are interested in having co-operation, naturally. When you are in orbit, there is no country and race".
It was the first time Iran had expressed such interest since signing last summer's landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
Mr Bahrami said, however, that co-operation will only be possible with the agreement of leaders of both countries.
He emphasised that Iran has a peaceful and powerful civil space programme. "We have capabilities and we are part of an international scene," he said.
Iran has begun negotiations on technical co-operation with the space agencies of various countries in Europe, as well as Russia, China and Japan, Mr Bahrami said. He did not elaborate.
Iran has long harboured ambitions to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance.
But the US and its allies worry that the same technology could also be used to develop long-range missiles. Iran has denied it is using its space programme to develop new weapons, and has said it is willing to share its scientific findings and satellite data with other countries.
Over the past decade, Iran has sent dummy satellites into orbit. Mr Bahrami said the country plans to send three domestically-made mini satellites into a low Earth orbit by early 2018.
In 2013, Iran sent a monkey into space and set up its first space tracking centre to monitor objects passing in orbit overhead.