January 16, 2013
Iran Plans Another Attempt Sending Monkeys Into Space
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Iran's Space Organization chief Hamid Fazeli told news agencies that the country will be trying to send a live monkey into space before mid-February.
Fazeli told the Mehr news agency that the final tests for launching the capsule, carrying monkeys, have been completed.
He said the launch would take place during a holiday period starting January 31, which is the 34th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The monkeys would not be the first animals sent into space by Iran. The country's space agency has already sent a rat, turtles, and worms into orbit. However, a previous attempt to send a live monkey into space in 2011 failed.
Fazeli told Mehr that the monkey project would help Iran "implement the preparations of sending a man into space," which is tentatively scheduled for 2020.
Iran says that it has successfully launched three satellites into orbit, including Omid in February 2009, Rassad in June 2011, and Navid in February 2012.
The Navid satellite is designed to collect data on weather conditions and monitor for natural disasters. It has advanced control technology, a higher resolution camera, and photocells to generate power.
The previous launch attempts saw launching a capsule with life support using the Kavoshgar-5 rocket, to an altitude of 75 miles for a 20-minute sub-orbital flight.
Iran has postponed the planned launch in May of another satellite known as Fajr, and did not provide an explanation as to why. Fazeli announced in December last year that the new satellite would be unveiled on February 2. The satellite is reportedly a reconnaissance satellite powered by solar energy, according to Tehran Times.
The country's space program has been a bit of a sore spot for western nations, who fear it could be used to develop ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.
In the upcoming launch, the monkeys will be carried in a capsule named Pishgam, or Pioneer, according to Fazeli.
“The monkeys that will be sent in a life capsule are for now in quarantine and are scheduled to be sent into space during the Fajr festival,” Fazeli said, according to the Mehr state-run news agency.
The Fajr festival is a 10-day celebration leading up to February 10, which marks the anniversary of the revolution.