Reports are coming out today that Iran has successfully launched a monkey into orbit.
According to the Iranian news channel Al-Alam, a Pishram ("Pioneer") rocket carried the tiny astronaut on a sub-orbital flight up to 120 kilometres, and the animal was retrieved, alive, once its capsule returned to Earth.
"This success is the first step towards man conquering the space and it paves the way for other moves," said General Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's Defense Minister, adding that there is a long way to go towards putting a human into space.
"Today's successful launch follows previous successes we had in launching (space) probes with other living creatures (on board)," he said. "The monkey which was sent in this launch landed safely and alive and this is a big step for our experts and scientists."
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Iran's previous attempt to send a monkey into space, back in September 2011, failed. No official reason was released for the failure, other than "all of its anticipated objectives were not accomplished." However, given that the launch itself happened, it is likely that the rhesus monkey they sent up on the Kavoshgar-5 rocket did not survive the journey.
This latest attempt, although being hailed by the Iranian government as simply a stepping stone towards their goals of putting a human in space, has raised concerns with the international community about Tehran's capabilities for launching long-range ballistic missiles.
(Photo courtesy CBC)
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