Iran Launches Monkey Into Space


According to a Jan. 28 report, Iran has joined the Space Race, albeit 60 years late. The Iranian state-run television network, Press TV, released footage of a monkey that was successfully sent into space “as a prelude to sending humans.”

The suborbital flight reportedly reached an altitude of about 75 miles before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Press TV did not release the exact launch date, time, site or the location of the monkey’s “ioneer” capsule’s landing.

In this project, we are sending a live animal, a monkey, into space,” said Iranian Space Agency Director Hamid Fazeli. “This kind of monkey’s physiology is very similar to humans. We are [using] this monkey to test life support systems and flight conditions. The capsule is completely sealed. It is equipped with machines that produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. All the vital signs will be transmitted to Earth, and cameras inside the cabin will record the event.”

Experts say the small rocket was of little military concern, but instead may have represented a significant step toward Iran’s stated goal of developing rockets large enough to send humans into space, as well as establishing an Iranian space station. Others feel the space initiatives are simply red herrings to draw attention away from Iran’s military aspirations.

To a large degree it’s a fig leaf,” former NASA engineer James Oberg said. “Like the North Koreans, they get to present their program as peaceful when lots of it has to do with weapons development.”

In fact, state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington Monday that the space mission raises legitimate concerns over possible Iranian violations of a United Nations ban on the development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

If they have launched anything using ballistic missile technology, it’s of serious concern,” Muland said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was also concerned about the mission.

We are appalled by photos of a visibly terrified monkey crudely strapped into a restraint device in which he was allegedly launched into space,” PETA said in a statement, calling Tehran’s action a throwback to the “cruelest days” of space exploration. “Monkeys are highly intelligent and sensitive animals who not only are traumatized by the violence and noise of a launch and landing but also suffer when caged in a laboratory before and — if they survive — after a flight.”