Second Iranian Monkey Sent Into Space
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
On Saturday, Iran announced it had successfully launched a monkey into space and returned it safely to Earth – marking the second time the Middle Eastern country had made this claim.
According to reports from Iranian state television, the rocket was Iran’s first to use liquid fuel and was able to reach a height of 72 miles. The monkey – named Fargam, or Farsi for Auspicious – was returned to earth safely, state television reported.
“In total, this is the 2nd monkey sent into space & returned in perfect health to #Iran. I congratulate the Leader, scientists & the nation,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani posted to Twitter on Saturday.
State television showed a rocket lifting off and then the monkey at a public event, strapped into a seat, looking at people applauding its safe return to Earth. The report said the primate’s capsule parachuted safely to earth after separating from the rocket – named Pajohesh, or Farsi for Research – in a mission that took 15 minutes to complete.
“The launch of Pajohesh is another long step getting the Islamic Republic of Iran closer to sending a man into space,” the official IRNA news agency said according to the Associated Press.
Iranian state TV also reported that scientists tracked signals coming from the rocket during flight, such as the monkey’s vital signs. The country has not said where the launch took place, but it may have come from a major satellite launch complex about 125 miles east of Tehran.
Like its first launch of a primate into space, Iran’s latest space exploration claim could not be verified.
Earlier in the year, Iran’s announcement of a successful launch into space and return of a monkey was greeted with skepticism amongst the international community, with many claiming that the Islamic Republic had pulled a switcheroo, revealing what could have become “monkeygate.”
Skeptics said photos taken before “launch” and after the “return” appeared to show two different monkeys. While the “before” monkey had light fur and a red mole above its right eye, the “after” monkey appeared to have darker fur and its mole removed.
Western observers said they did not see evidence of a missile launch from Iran and the country only produced pictures taken before the supposed launch, none after.
The “launch” was scheduled to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, potentially making a failed attempt a public-relations disaster.
According to reports from Press TV, the Iranian rocket reached a height of 72 miles, which should have been detected by international monitors. This same report also said the monkey came back to Earth safely.
Many observers said the state-run media fueled the idea of a hoax when they showcased the space monkey at a press conference after its supposed return. The press conference monkey appeared very different from the one shown in the “before” photos, skeptics said.
The space program’s steps are set against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Many skeptics see the peaceful space program as a cover for the development of rocket technology that could be used militarily.