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Iran’s space monkey returns

Iran has said it successfully sent a monkey into outer space; we take a look back at animal astronauts.
Iran space monkeyEnlarge
Iran reportedly launched this little guy into space successfully. (Twitter/Screengrab)

Iran announced its successful launch of a monkey into space Monday. 

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television that the monkey, who was strapped into a harness (looking rather terrified, we might add), took a 75-mile long sub-orbital flight before "returning intact," BBC News reported

Western powers fear that the technology could be used to launch a nuclear warhead, and are looking to restart talks with Iran about scaling down its nuclear program, Reuters reported

A top US official went so far as to say Iran may have violated UN resolutions with the launch, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Any space launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles as well as SLV (small launch vehicle) technologies, and they're all virtually identical and interchangeable," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told AFP.

Hamid Fazeli, director of the Iran Space Agency, said that the (poor, frightened) primate was chosen “because of biological similarities between humans and monkeys." 

More from GlobalPost: Iran to send monkey into space; NIH may stop using chimps (PHOTOS)

Fazeli also predicted that Iran would put a human into orbit within the next five to eight years, and send a satellite into space by the end of March, according to The New York Times

The monkey is just the latest in a long line of animal astronauts sent into space. Here, we take a look back at some of the most notable. 

Yorick the monkey (1951) 

Sure, Iran's excited about their little monkey, but Yorick became the first ever monkey to live through a space flight on September 20, 1951, when he was launched in a missile flight out of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. His companions? Eleven mice, NASA reported

Tsygan and Dezik, space dogs (1951)

Tsygan and Dezik rode a Soviet V2 rocket almost 70 miles into space in a pressurized capsule. They parachuted back to Earth safely, though Dezik did not make it through the following mission later that year, WebEcoist reported.

Fun fact: both the canines are stuffed, mounted, and memorialized forever at Moscow's Cosmonaut Memorial Museum. 

Felix the cat (1963) 

Leave it to the French to launch a feline named Felix into space. Felix went into orbit October 18, 1963, in a Veronique AGI sounding rocket. He was recovered after parachuting back to Earth; a second cat launched a week later was not so lucky, according to NASA. 

Turtles in space (1968) 

The USSR continued their inclusion of animals on space flights in September 1968, sending turtles on their first successful probe launch, along with wine flies, mealworms, and various plants and seeds, NASA reported. 

Iran has experience with turtles, too: in 2010, it successfully launched a pair of the animals, along with a mouse and worms, the Associated Press reported

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