Iran Launches Monkey Into Space

On Dec. 14, 2013, the Iranian Space Agency released a statement saying that it had launched a monkey into space.  Using a liquid fueled rocket, the monkey was sent to an altitude of 72 miles.

The monkey, named Fargham which means Auspicious in Farsi survived reentry and was reported to have a healthy appetite.

The space capsule was equipped with sensors to take reading, including monitoring the vitals of the monkey.

In January 2013, Iran released a report claiming it had launched another monkey into space.  Skeptics soon noted that the pictures of the monkey did not match before and after the flight, prompting many to doubt the claims of the Iranian government.  The ISA stated that the wrong pictures had been released of another candidate for the flight.

The latest mission lasted for 15 minutes and was the first time that the ISA used a liquid fueled rocket.  The first mission used a solid fueled rocket that reached the same altitude but at a greater speed.

The ISA has stated that it hopes to launch a human into space by 2020.  Iran has already launched several satellites into space, and plans for a larger animal for the next launch.

The US State Department had released concerns over the legality of the launches as it may violate a United Nations security resolution to prevent Iran from acquiring ballistic missile technology.  According to the State department missiles used to launch items into space could also be used to deliver warheads to other countries.

Animals have been used by several countries for testing for space programs. On June 11, 1948, the US launched a V-2 rocket into space, carrying Albert I, a rhesus monkey who died during the flight.  Other animals died in the US flights, until September 20, 1951, when Yorick survived the landing, becoming the first monkey to survive the flight.

The Soviet space program chose to focus mainly on dogs as their cosmonauts of choice.  The Soviets believed the dogs would be calmer in flight.  Females were used to help with waste control.

Russia launched the first dogs into space on August 15,195, when Dezik and Tsygan were launched and retrieved without making orbit.

On November 3, 1952 Sputnik II was launched into orbit, carrying Laika.  Laika died within a few hours during the flight.

On January 31, 1961, the first chimpanzee was launched into space using a Mercury Redstone rocket that mimicked the flight pattern to Alan Shephard’s first American flight into space.  HAM, named after the acronym, Holloman Aero Med, survived the flight with no problems and was placed on display at the Washington in 1963 until his death in 1980.  His skeleton was retained by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, but his other remains were buried at the International Space Hall of Fame, located in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The use of animals in space programs has been highly controversial at times.  The proponents point out the benefits of the research as paving the way for human astronauts to safely conduct missions. Research provided by living subjects was used to provide designs for humans and to prove that animals could survive the shock of space travel.

Animal rights groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals believe that animal testing is wrong and unethical.  PETA urged Iran to not use monkeys for experiments pointing out that neither the US nor European space agencies performed animal testing anymore.


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