Iran Launches Monkey on Suborbital Flight

Bound for Space?

Bound for Space?

Source: Fars News Agency

Iran announced today that it has successfully launched a small monkey on a suborbital flight. This marks the second primate launch attempt for Iran, the first of which apparently ended in failure, and the death of the test subject, in September of 2011.  Today’s attempt was carried out by the Ministry of Defence’s Aerospace Industries Association, with the rhesus monkey occupying a “bio-capsule” which ascended to an altitude of 120 kilometers before returning to Earth.  Apparently, this monkey was more fortunate than its predecessor, and was reported to be “found alive.”

News sources have presented conflicting information and images regarding the names assigned to the launch vehicle and its capsule,  but the carrier vehicle apparently a suborbital version of the Kavoshgar-5 rocket,  a two stage liquid fueled rocket similar to the Safir booster which orbited Iran’s first satellite in 2009.  The “bio capsule” reportedly improved from the first failed attempt,  appears to be named “Pishgam,” (“Pioneer” in Farsi) which can also be used to refer to the entire booster/capsule combination.

Although neither version of the booster, which is based on the first stage Ghadr Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile has the capability to launch a capsule capable of carrying an astronaut into orbit, Iran is reportedly working on a larger booster which could perform the task, and is stating it is looking towards a 2020 launch date.

News of the launch comes almost at the same time of other officially disputed news reports suggesting a massive explosion at Iran’s  Fordo nuclear facility.

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