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article imageIran's Kavoshgar space rocket reportedly launches monkey to space

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 28, 2013 in World
Tehran - The Iranian Fars new agency is reporting that Iran successfully launched a live monkey into space on Monday. Fars described the achievement as a major advance in its missile and space program but the news is alarming the West and Israel.
The Iranian authorities described the launch as another step toward Tehran's goal of unmanned space flight.
Reuters notes, however, that there has been no independent confirmation of the report from Western news and official sources.
Fars reports the monkey was launched into space on a Kavoshgar rocket. The rocket reached a height of more than 120 kilometers and "returned with its shipment" intact.
According to AP, a brief news report on Iranian state TV confirmed that the rocket named Pishgam or Pioneer in the Iranian Farsi language, returned to Earth safely.
The news was also carried on the Iranian state-run English-language Press TV.
AP reports the official announcement gave no specific details of time of launch or launch site.
Iran has long indicated its intention to send an astronaut into space as part of its aerospace program. According to Reuters, Iran had announced plans to send a monkey into space in 2011, but the attempt failed.
The Iranian authorities announced plans to build a space center last year but gave no further details. But the Iranians are known to have a satellite launch facility in the vicinity of Semnan, 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Tehran. They also have a satellite monitoring facility outside Mahdasht, 70 kilometers (40 miles) west of Tehran.
AP reports that Iran says it plans to put a satellite into orbit to monitor natural disasters in a region prone to earthquakes and related seismic activities. The authorities also say the satellite program is aimed to upgrade telecommunications and military surveillance capabilities in the region.
The Telegraph reports that according to the Voice of Russia, Iran launched an Explorer rocket into space carrying “mice, turtles and worms" in 2010. Iran's Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri reportedly said the country's aerospace program is “strategic, and a priority.”
Western countries worry that long-range ballistic technology used to place Iranian satellites in orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. But Tehran denies the suggestion, saying its space and nuclear research are for peaceful purposes, such as energy and medical technology.
Tim Stanley's comments on The Telegraph reflect the concern that advancements in aerospace and nuclear technology among "pariah states" such as Iran and N. Korea generate in the West:
"It increasingly feels like the only countries that are still participating in the space race are ones that have no cause to be up there. Why isn't Iran, say, spending the money on feeding its own people? Its economy is in a mess and the cause is man made; undemocratic states tend to have far less balanced patterns of development than democratic ones."
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