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Last year, Iran successfully launched a rocket that carried a mouse, a turtle and worms into space. This summer, the Iranian Space Organization is planning on taking its space program one step further by sending a monkey into orbit this summer.

This was revealed this Thursday by Iran’s top space official at a press conference¬† after the launch of the Rassad-1 satellite.

“The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched during the month of Mordad (July 23 to August 23) with a 285 kg capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 120 kilometers (74 miles),” said Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran’s Space Organization.

If the mission will prove to be successful, Iran will follow-up by sending it’s first man into space.

It has been known since this February that the Iranian Space Organization was planning on making this IQ leap for its mission’s occupants,¬† when the country’s head of state President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a space capsule designed to carry a live monkey into space. At the same time, the President also showed off four new prototypes designed and built by the country, which it hopes to launch before March 2012. It’s first satellite was launched in 2009.

The Rassad-1 satellite was launched this Wednesday and as of now is in orbit, 260 kilometers above the Earth. The satellite has a life span of two months, circles the earth 15 times in 24 hours, and will be used to capture photograph various parts of the planet and transmit them back to Tehran.

Tehran has set forth a very ambitious space program in the past few years, and although they’re lagging behind the US or Russia by 50 years, as far as space exploration is concerned, progress is indeed visible. Yeah, remember that flying saucer the Iranian government unveiled a while back?