Iran Space Agency: “We Want to Join With NASA to Explore the Cosmos”

 

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Iran has long harbored ambitions to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance. The U.S. and its allies worry that the same technology could be used to develop long-range missiles.


Speaking to reporters at the start of World Space Week, Mohsen Bahrami, head of Iran's space agency, said that "many in the world look at NASA's programs. We are interested in having cooperation, naturally. When you are in orbit, there is no country and race." But some wonder if such a move would make the US more vulnerable to attacks rather than mending relations and jumpstarting the sharing of valuable information between the two countries, suggested the Christain Science Monitor.

 

It was the first time Iran had expressed such interest since signing last summer's landmark nuclear deal with world powers. Bahrami said, however, that cooperation will only be possible with the agreement of leaders of both countries. He emphasized that Iran has a peaceful and powerful civil space program. "We have capabilities and we are part of an international scene," he said.

Iran has begun negotiations on technical cooperation with the space agencies of various European countries, as well as Russia, China and Japan, Bahrami said. He also said Iran had started negotiating with international satellite operators.

 

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Iran's Defense Ministry, which is in charge of launching satellites, has denied that it is using its space program to develop new weapons. Iran says 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. Bahrami said Iran plans to send three domestically-made mini-satellites into a low Earth orbit by early 2018. At least three Iranian universities are working to develop satellites, sponsored by the Iranian space agency. In 2013, Iran sent a monkey into space and set up its first space tracking center to monitor objects passing in orbit overhead.

Ancient Persia was a cradle of science, contributing to medicine, mathematics, science, and philosophy. Trying to revive the golden time of Persian science, Iran's scientists are reaching out to the world. In an amazing  flight of historical fancy, Iraqi transportation minister Kadhem Finjan al-Hamami told Al Jazeera: “It’s a long story, maybe you don’t know about it. Maybe even people from Dhi Qar [site of a pre-Islamic battle fought between Arabs in southern Iraq and a Sassanid Persian army, c. 609] don’t know – the first airports that were built on planet Earth were built in the 5th Century BC in Dhi Qar,” al-Hamami said, in an Al Jazeera translation. “There were Sumerians who launched spaceships [from Dhi Qar] and headed to other worlds,” he added, arguing that Sumerians had discovered a new planet during their time.

The Daily Galaxy via Associated Press and Christian Science Monitor

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