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Iran plans to send a monkey into space

Iran has previously sent a rat, turtle, worms and a monkey doll into space, and is now planning to launch a live monkey into space on its Kavoshgar-5 rocket.

Iran monkey space 16 06 11Enlarge
Chimpanzees from the Fox movie 'Space Chimps' pose during the opening day of the Licensing International Expo on June 19, 2007 in New York. Iran says it plans to put a live monkey into space on its Kavoshgar-5 rocket. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran, which has reportedly sent a monkey doll into space, plans to launch a live monkey into space aboard its Kavoshgar-5 rocket this summer, according to state television.

The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched between July 23 and August 23, with a capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 74 miles, said Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran's Space Organization.

Iran first put a satellite into orbit in 2009, and has outlined an ambitious space program in the face of Western concerns.

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In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a space capsule designed to carry a live monkey into space, along with prototypes of home-built satellites the country hopes to launch in 2012, Agence France-Presse reports.

Fazeli has touted the launch of a large animal into space as the first step toward sending a man into space, which Tehran said it is aiming to do by 2020, AFP reports.

Iran launched its Kavoshgar-4 rocket in March, but there were no live animals on board, according to the official IRNA news agency. A photo released by IRNA showed a monkey doll in the capsule.

In 2010, the Islamic republic sent small animals into space, including a rat, turtle and worms, on its Kavoshgar-3 rocket.

On Wednesday, Iran said it had successfully launched its Rassad-1 (Observation-1) satellite into orbit 160 miles above the Earth.

Rassad-1, which orbits the Earth 15 times a day, will be used to photograph the planet and transmit images, and is designed to produce high-resolution maps, Iranian TV reports said.

Western powers fear that Tehran could develop a missiles capable of firing nuclear warheads, masked behind a science program, the Associated Press reports. Iran denies that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.