According to Iran state media, Iran launched a suborbital rocket last week with a passenger aboard: a monkey. A gray tufted monkey survived the flight, riding inside an “indigenous bio-capsule” which was recovered after the flight. While the US and other nations are worried that Iran’s real goal is to have a nuclear missile program, Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television that this launch was a “big step” towards sending astronauts into space by 2020.
Iranian news agencies said the rocket traveled to an altitude of 120 kilometres (75 miles) for a suborbital flight. The space capsule was named Pishgam, which is “Pioneer” in Farsi. The launch has not yet been independently verified.
“This success is the first step towards man conquering the space and it paves the way for other moves,” General Vahidi said, but added that the process of putting a human into space would be a lengthy one.
“Today’s successful launch follows previous successes we had in launching (space) probes with other living creatures,” he said, referring to the launch in the past of a rat, turtles and worms into space.
A previous attempt in 2011 by Iran to put a monkey into space failed, and they never provided an explanation for the failure.
Much of Iran’s technological equipment derives from modified Chinese and North Korean technology. Iran denies that its long-range ballistic technology is linked to its atomic program.