Iran's attempt to launch a monkey into space ends in failure
A top official in Iran's space program admitted that the country's attempt to launch a monkey into outer space ended in failure, according to reports.
It is a blow to the Islamic republic’s effort to launch a man into space by 2020. So far, the Iranian Space Agency has only been successful in launching a rat, turtles and worms beyond Earth’s confines.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had announced his country’s intention to send a monkey in space aboard its Kavoshgar-5 rocket this year but never revealed a date. So, news of the failed launch came as surprise to many space watchers.
In an AFP report, Iranian Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri is quoted as saying that the rocket was launched during Shahrivar, which is an Iranian calendar month that runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 22.
“However, the launch was not publicized as all of its anticipated objectives were not accomplished,” he said.
Since putting its first satellite into orbit in 2009, Iran has rebuffed accusations that its space program is for military capabilities, such as delivering a nuclear strike. The country is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
The idea of launching monkeys into space is not new. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and Soviet Union used animals, including chimpanzees and dogs, in rocket launches in order to test their abilities to blast a living thing into space and bring it back alive.
-- W.J. Hennigan
Photo: Ham, the first chimpanzee ever to ride into space for NASA, is shown off by his animal trainer in 1961 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: NASA