Iran claims monkeynaut launched into space

Credit: A scene from "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" (1964)

NASA and other leading space agencies have used monkeys in decades past to act as test subjects for the rigors of space that humans would eventually face. Now that many of those initial barriers have been crossed, scientists are increasingly utilizing humans and robots to conduct new tests in the void of space. However, one emerging space program isn't relying on data from the past, a decision that has once again put monkeys in the perilous test pilot seat.

The Iran Aerospace Organization announced today that it has sent a monkey into space in a "bio-capsule" propelled by a Kavoshgar rocket. According to the country's news agency, the craft traveled 75 miles above the Earth and "returned its shipment intact." From that vague wording, we don't know if "intact" means that the monkey was returned alive and healthy or not, but the flight was apparently successful enough for the country to take its experiment public. 

Of course, given the concerns from various nations regarding Iran's status as an emerging nuclear power, this latest test of rocket technology will probably be viewed by some as less as a foray into space and more as a test of payload range. On the other hand, due to Iran's past Photoshop-assisted efforts designed to project technological strength, it's quite possible the country's purported monkeynaut is as fictional as the one in the photo above. 

Via Reuters

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