Animal Reportedly Recovered Alive Following Sub-Orbital Flight
The Islamic Republic of Iran says it has taken another step towards becoming a space-faring nation by launching a monkey into space and recovering the animal alive after a sub-orbital flight.
The news was reported by the Arabic-language television channel Al-Alam and relayed by the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. Defense minister Ahmad Vahidi is quoted as saying the flight "is the first step towards man conquering ... space and it paves the way for other moves." He later said putting a human into space would be a lengthy process.
Still images aired by Iranian state television reportedly show workers putting a vest on the monkey and strapping it into a device that resembles a child's car seat. The flight reportedly achieved an altitude of about 75 miles.
This is at least the second attempt by the Islamic Republic to launch a monkey into space. The first acknowledged attempt was in 2011, and it was not successful. No explanation was ever offered by the Tehran government.
Iran has been aggressively pursuing launch capability, it says to be able to boost domestic satellites into orbit for telecommunications and Earth-monitoring uses. The program is viewed by Western governments as an effort to develop the ability to launch nuclear weapons on long-range missiles, and has been almost universally condemned.