Iran Plans To Send Another Monkey Into Space Within A Month

By Josh Lieberman on October 14, 2013 4:21 PM EDT

miss baker
Iran will send another monkey into space soon, the country's space agency said on Sunday. Above is Miss Baker, one of the first two monkeys to survive a trip to space, in 1959. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iran will send a monkey into space soon, state media reported on Sunday. Hamid Fazeli, the deputy head of the Iranian Space Agency, said that a live animal -- most likely a monkey -- "will be ready within a month to be sent into space," according to the newspaper Jomhuri Eslami. Iran's state-run Press TV quoted Fazeli as saying that "a liquid-fuel launcher" will carry the monkey into space. 

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This will be the third time Iran attempts to launch a monkey into space. In 2011, Iran launched a monkey aboard a Kavoshgar-4 rocket, but the mission failed. In January of this year, Iran claimed to have successfully launched a monkey 75 miles into space. But Western media voiced skepticism over the launch after observers noticed that before-and-after pictures from the launch clearly showed two different monkeys. 

Iran eventually acknowledged that the two monkeys were different, but claimed it was because the wrong "before" image was accidentally distributed. The monkey shown in images beforehand was one of the candidates for the space launch, but not the one that was actually sent into space. 

Whatever the real reason behind the mixed-up files of the Iranian space monkey, the United States didn't find it very amusing. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the U.S. didn't have any way to confirm whether or not the launch even took place, but that if it did it was a breach of United Nations resolution forbidding "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons."

"Any space launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles," Nuland said.

A relative newcomer to the space game, Iran became an orbital-launch-capable country in 2009 with the launch of its satellite Omid. Iran plans to launch a manned space mission by 2018.

The first monkey ever launched into space was Albert, an ill-fated rhesus monkey who in 1948 rode a U.S. V2 rocket 39 miles into space, where he died of suffocation. In 1951, two dogs aboard a Soviet Union craft became the first mammals to live through suborbital space flight. The first monkeys to survive a trip to space were Miss Able and Miss Baker, a rhesus monkey and spider monkey, respectively, that the U.S. launched into space in 1959.  

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