Monkey Business: Iran Sends Primate Into Space
Iran made the news today, but thankfully not for their nuclear program or economic sanctions. Today Middle Eastern nation announced that it successfully launched a monkey into space for the second time, and that the monkey has returned home safe and sound. Phew. I’d hate to think of that monkey trying to fly a Soyuz capsule.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran launched Fargam, a monkey named for the Farsi word for “auspicious,” into space to celebrate the country’s Research Week. Fargam took a 75-mile ride into space and came back within 15 minutes. And he didn’t have to pay $250,000 for a seat.
For the 1st time, using liquid propellant, a living creature–monkey named Fargam–was sent into space and returned safe & sound. 1/2
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) December 14, 2013
Iran sent their first monkey into space in January in a similar mission. The move surprised many around the world who didn’t realize they had the technological capabilities to pull off such a mission. American and Israeli officials were particularly troubled about what the mission might mean for military operations, specifically involving long-range missiles. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said that such a launch would place Iran in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, given that the rocket launch constitutes an “activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” Similar concerns have been voiced today, although the State Department is currently unable to confirm Iran’s claims. Perhaps ironically, Iran is a founding member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space established in 1959.
The Iranian Space Agency has announced its intentions to developed manned spaceflight capabilities. The ISA plans to put a man into space below a 200-kilometer orbit before the year 2020. According to the ISA website, one of the goals is to send a man to the moon. Another is “finding location of Iranian Space Town for construction.” I’m not entirely sure what this means—an Iranian space station, perhaps? Iran is one of fifteen or so countries with satellite technology; they launched Omid, the National Iranian Satellite that was manufactured in country, back in 2009. They launched its first living creatures (a rat, worms, and two turtles) into space in back 2010.
While China has made news for successfully landing a moon probe, there may soon be another player in space. What I keep wondering is what happens if different countries attempt to colonize Mars? Will we have different countries there too? Will we need a U.N. to keep things under control? Or perhaps robots will work. Along with the monkeys, of course.