Iran to send astronauts into space by 2018

Updated 05 February 2013
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Iran to send astronauts into space by 2018

TEHRAN,Iran: An Iranian semi-official news agency says the country plans to send its first astronauts into space by 2018.
Tuesday’s report by Mehr quotes Mohammad Ebrahimi, a senior official in Iran’s space agency, as saying the flight of two trained Iranian astronauts has been slated for between 2016 and 2018.
Ebrahimi says Iran will first attempt to send the astronauts into sub-orbital space, up to a distance of 200 km, for about 30 minutes.
The announcement is the latest in a series of statements from Iranian officials on the government’s ambitious space program. Last week, Iran said it sent a monkey into space successfully.
Tehran’s nuclear and space programs have raised concerns in the West, which suspects they could be used for military purposes. Iran denies the charges.


New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

Updated 19 min 45 sec ago
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New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

GAZA CITY: Two Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel were pronounced dead Monday, a Gaza official said, bringing the toll from Israeli fire since March 30 to 40.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry named the latest fatalities as Tahrir Wahba, 18, and Abdullah Shamali, 20.
Wahba, who was deaf, was shot in the head in a clash east of Khan Yunis on April 6, and Shamali died of “bullet wounds to his belly” sustained on Friday, said spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.
Most of the 40 Palestinians killed by Israel since the start of “March of Return” protests on March 30 were shot by snipers on the border, while a few others were killed by Israeli artillery or air strikes.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the coastal enclave, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, have gathered at the border on consecutive Fridays to call for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Some protesters have launched stones or burning tires at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces have responded with live ammunition, wounding hundreds in addition to those killed.
The Israeli army says its troops only opened fire in self-defense or to stop protesters attempting to breach the barrier separating the territory from Israel.
More than 440 demonstrators suffered bullet wounds or gas inhalation on Friday, rescuers said.
Israel has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups along with calls for investigations by the United Nations or the European Union.
Israel has for more than a decade imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, fighting three wars with Hamas since 2008.
Also on Monday, Hamas’s military wing said one of its men died in an explosion.
It said in a statement that Mohammed Al-Maqadma, 55, was killed by an “explosive projectile” fired by an unnamed group which it described as hostile to Hamas.
It did not elaborate further.
The Gaza health ministry said a child was wounded in the same blast, in the northern part of the strip.