TEHRAN, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Monday that Iran took the first step to send man to space.
The defense minister's remarks followed reports that Iran had sent a live monkey onboard a homemade rocket named Pishgam ( Pioneer) into space.
Iran sent a capsule containing the monkey into space and retrieved the "shipment" intact later, the Tehran-based Arab- language Al-Alam channel said, quoting an official statement.
"Sending explorer and retrieving it was the first step for sending human to space in later stages," Vahidi said, adding that he would soon announce some good news in this regard, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
"Explorer Pioneer fulfilled its mission at 360,000 feet altitude well," he was quoted as saying.
Vahid said the biocapsule which contained a living creature, a monkey, came back to the earth safe and sound at the preplanned speed and velocity.
The project was studied and carried out by Iran Space Agency ( ISA) and the capsule was launched by the aerospace division of Iran's Defense Ministry to a predetermined orbit, according to Fars.
The reports did not elaborate on its duration in space.
Previous attempt by the Islamic republic to put a monkey into space was reported to have failed.
According to Fars, the objectives of the project, which were achieved, include sending the monkey to the height of 120 km, using domestic technology of designing, manufacturing and retrieving the capsule intact.
The Iranian minister further said Iran will soon inaugurate a space observation base.
On Jan. 16, ISA Director Hamid Fazeli said the plan to send living creatures into space was part of the project to send human beings into space, adding that the project would be carried out over the course of five to eight years.
In December 2012, Vahidi said Iran was to unveil new space achievements on Feb. 2, 2013, Iran's Space Technology Day.
In June 2012, the defense minister said Iran's new space center, named Imam Khomeini Space Center, would be inaugurated and the Iranian scientists and experts from the Aerospace Industry Organization of the Defense Ministry would send a new generation of the Islamic republic's satellites from the center into orbit.
As the first step, Vahidi said, the Tolou (Dawn) satellite would be sent into space from the space center.
Iran, a founding member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, launched its first domestically-made data-processing satellite, the Omid (Hope), into space in 2009.
Iran frequently says that it will push ahead with its space program in the coming years.