The New York Times reports that Iranian state TV today boasted the nation has sent a monkey into space, which comes on the heels of the Iran’s successes in launching worms, a mouse and a turtle into the great beyond.
Iran Space Agency director Hamid Fazeli said the monkey launch is a precursor to human space flight, which could happen for Iran within the “next five to eight years.”
If Iranian propaganda is to be believed, the little guy rode into the heavens aboard Iran’s Pishgam (Pioneer) capsule, propelled by a Kavoshgar rocket.
Iran says the capsule returned intact, and the monkey survived.
More than 50 years ago, on May 28, 1959, the United States launched into space two monkeys — a squirrel monkey named Baker and a rhesus monkey named Able — with both surviving the 15-minute flight.
In 1962 the U.S. successfully launched and recovered a closer human relative when a chimpanzee named Enos became the first chimp in orbit, following a suborbital flight by a chimp named Ham in 1961.