Should all go according to plan, Iran will send its first astronaut into space by 2020 and put a man on the Moon by 2025. The country certainly appears to be serious; last week they launched a monkey into low orbit and successfully retrieved it (though some now suspect that it was an elaborate hoax — check out these before-and-after photos of the monkey). Now, in an (apparent) effort to move the program further along, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he's ready to be Iran's first human sent into orbit.
Speaking at an exhibition of Iranian space achievements in Tehran on Monday, he had this to say: "I'm ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed by the scientists of my country and go into space, even though I know there are a lot of candidates."
The statement prompted this rather snide tweet from U.S. Senator John McCain: "So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space - wasn't he just there last week?" McCain's comment has spurred accusations of racism — but that may be taking his cynical remarks a bit too far.
Now, it's not clear if Ahmadinejad was being serious or not, as he's notorious for making provocative and hyperbolic public statements.
But when have we ever heard a head-of-state say he's "ready to be sacrificed by the scientists" of his country? His commitment to "science" in this regard is as (dubiously) admirable as it is disturbing.
And should it happen, let's be sure to check the before-and-after photos to make sure it was really him.