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Iranian Space Agency expresses interest in working with NASA

NASA said its International Space Station partners, which include Canada, Japan, and the European Space Agency, are aware of a Moscow proposal to cut the number of Russian cosmonauts at the ISS from three to two
Stan Honda (AFP/File)
Iran is also in talks with Russia over sending Iranian astronauts into space

Iran is interested in working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Mohsen Bahrami, the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) told reporters at the start of World Space Week 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."

Bahrami noted that both countries must be willing to go forward with such a venture for it to happen.

According to AP, this is the first occasion in which Iran has publicly expressed such an interest since it reached the historic nuclear deal with world powers in July of last year.

"We have capabilities and we are part of an international scene," he said, stressing the ISA is a peaceful civil space program with powerful abilities.

Iran's space activities, however, have sent alarm bells ringing in the international community amid concern over Tehran's development of technology that could have military purposes.

Iran's FARS news agency quoted Bahrami as saying that Iran is also in talks with Russia over sending Iranian astronauts into space.

"The project to send man into space is still a priority of the ISA and we have even held some negotiations with Russia to send astronauts into space," Bahrami told the press.

In addition to Russia, the ISA is negotiating with satellite operators in Europe and Aisa, including those based in France, Britain, China, South Korea and Japan.

"After these negotiations and inking the initial contracts, we intend to buy remote sensing and telecommunication satellites," he said.

The Islamic Republic has launched a handful of satellites into orbit since 2009.

Bahrami also explained that the ISA is sponsoring the development of at least three mini-satellites at least three Iranian universities, which it hopes to launch into low Earth orbit by early 2018, said AP.

In December 2013, Iran said that it had safely returned a monkey to Earth after blasting it into space in the second such launch.

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