Big news coming out of Iran today, as the country has reportedly flown a monkey into space and returned it safely to Earth. At any rate, that's what the country's state-run TV is claiming, and if it's true, this is a significant step forward for Iran's space program. The monkey apparently flew to height of 72 miles before returning to Earth, so provided these reports are accurate, it definitely made it into space with that kind of height.
It hitched a ride to the frontier that is space aboard a Pishtam rocket, though there isn't any exact word on the date the flight happened. Iran has been itching to put a man in space for a while now, and of course, sending up a monkey is a familiar first step on the way to manned space missions. The US was the first country to launch a monkey into space, performing the feat way back in 1949.
The fear here is that Iran will use what it learns from this space program and apply it to the development of long-ranged missiles. Whether or not that's the true direction of Iran's space program remains to be seen - perhaps this is the precursor to long-ranged missiles, or perhaps it's simply the product of Iran's innocent desire to add its name to the list of countries that have made it into space. Whatever the motivation, successfully sending a monkey into space puts Iran another step closer to realizing its ultimate goal.
Keep in mind that this hasn't been confirmed by any outside sources yet, only a state-run channel in Iran. The report on the space mission was lacking important details too, so we certainly need more information before making the call. We'll be keeping an ear to the ground for more information, so stay tuned.
[via Sky News]