Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to be the first Iranian man to go to space, and he's willing to make the necessary sacrifices. The Iranian president made the declaration at an exhibition of the country's space achievements in Tehran this week, just a few days after the country announced the successful launch of a monkey into orbit.
"I'm ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country's scientists," the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as saying. According to Iran's Mehr News Agency, Ahmadinejad went on to say that "sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists."
But is he serious?
As Reuters notes, it's unclear whether Ahmadinejad was being entirely serious about his desire to go orbital. The controversial leader has been known to make outlandish statements in the past, though he's apparently serious about building up Iran's space program, raising concerns among Western officials who fear that the country's space technology could be used to build long-range ballistic missiles.
Ahmadinejad has already announced plans to send an astronaut to space by 2020 and to put a man on the moon by 2025, but at this point, it's hard to gauge how far the Iranian space program has actually advanced. The country has been notoriously tight-lipped about its test launches, leading many to doubt whether its grand announcements are more bluster than anything else. Such skepticism surfaced once again last week, after inconsistent photos sparked questions about whether Iran's test monkey ever made it back from space as the country claimed, and whether it even went to space at all.