A live monkey will blast off into space aboard Iran’s Kavoshgar 5 – or Explorer 5 – rocket sometime this summer, in the next step of the country’s space programme, the official IRNA news agency said.
The head of Iran Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli said the country plans to send a live monkey into space on board domestically-made Kavoshgar 5 "in the next Iranian calendar month (that begins on 23 July)."
At the moment, five monkeys are subjects of experiments to prepare for the launch, and to determine which one is most suitable for the mission. The monkeys are undergoing exercises to "withstand physical and orbital pressure, acceleration, sound (boom), vibrations and other elements during the liftoff," Fazeli said.
The US and its allies, however, are concerned the technology in Iran’s space programme could also be used to develop long-range missiles with possible nuclear warheads.
Iran denies it seeks nuclear arms and says it wants only energy-producing reactors, the Associated Press reported.
Iran plans to launch its first manned mission to space by 2019.
Photo: Able on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. In May 1959, Able, a rhesus monkey, and Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey, became the first monkeys to successfully return to Earth after travelling in space