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Presumably, of course, since this news piece has only been delivered by an Iranian state-owned and controlled news outlet, and has yet to be confirmed by an independent source. Apparently, the Iranian space program successfully launched a live monkey into space, after the capsule in which the animal was housed reached an altitude of 75 miles, or 120 kilometers. The capsule then descended back to Earth, where it was recovered along with its still live and intact cargo.

Now, this might not seem like much news, considering since the 1950s some 32 monkeys were put into low-orbit in collective launches along the years by the US, Soviet Union and Russia, France and Argentina. Number 33 might mean that a new country is now on the list as well – Iran. This isn’t the first living being the country has launched into space, though. In  2010 it made a suborbital launch of a capsule containing a rodent, two turtles and worms, just one year later after its first satellite launch. In 2011, the Iranian space agency made its first attempt at sending a monkey into space, however the launch failed.

“This success is the first step towards man conquering the space and it paves the way for other moves,”  Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television, but added that the process of putting a human into space would be a lengthy one.

“Today’s successful launch follows previous successes we had in launching (space) probes with other living creatures (on board),” he added.

“The monkey which was sent in this launch landed safely and alive and this is a big step for our experts and scientists.”

Still, while Iran is currently reaching milestones long obtained by other countries 50 years ago, it’s making rapid progress – after all, Iran is the first nation ever to build a flying saucer, by their account at least. In 2010 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran plans to put a man in space by 2020; if current efforts and budget allocations follow the same trend, this might become likely.

The rest of the world’s governments, however, seem to view Iran’s space program with a highly suspicious and circumspect eye. I believe most of you are aware of the current international long standing criticism of Iran’s nuclear program, which the Iranian government has always claimed it is exclusively meant for energy and medical purposes. Coupled with its space program, however, many governments believe Iran is developing or has already developed nuclear warhead intercontinental missiles.