Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Iranian scientists Monday that he would like to be strapped on top of a rocket and blasted into space.
Having mastered the art of shooting monkeys into space just last week, making Iran the sixth country in history to do so, Ahmadinejad’s explosion into the heavens would place the Iranian space program on par with the American and Russian space programs of 1961.
“I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,” said Ahmadinejad, warning Iranian scientists of possible sabotage by its enemies.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space in April 1961, beating American astronaut Alan Shepard by just over 3 weeks after Shepard’s mission had experienced numerous setbacks.
The U.S. launched its first monkey into space in 1949, several years after the conclusion of World War II.
The U.S. remains the only country in history to have placed a man on the Moon. 24 NASA astronauts have traveled to the moon, and 12 have walked on its surface.
The U.S. also has two robots driving around on Mars, and several satellites flying around the Solar System.
Republican Sen. John McCain drew fire Monday for a tweet critics suggested was racist in meaning when he said, in reference to Iran’s space ambitions, “So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space — wasn’t he just there last week? “Iran launches monkey into space.”
The tweet has been retweeted over 2,300 times; McCain also received a stern rebuke via Twitter from Republican Rep. Justin Amash.
McCain, who writes his own tweets, followed up with a second tweet stating, “Re: Iran space tweet – lighten up folks, can’t everyone take a joke?”