Iran Launching Monkey Into Space
Second Iranian satellite successfully launched
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2011 3:00 AM CDT
This photo released by the Iranian Defense Ministry shows the country's satellite launching center.   (AP)
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(Newser) – Iran launched its second satellite into space this week and it plans to follow up by sending a live monkey this summer. The head of Iran's space organization says a capsule containing the monkey will be sent to an altitude of 74 miles by the Kavoshgar-5 rocket, AOL reports. The Kavoshgar-3 sent up a rat, a turtle, some worms, and a monkey doll last year. Iran aims to send a person into space by 2020.

Officials didn't reveal the exact purpose of the observation satellite sent up this week, but Western analysts believe it could be used for military reconnaissance as well as monitoring crops and damage from natural disasters, reports the New York Times. Experts say that the launch shows that Iranian engineers are becoming more skilled, although sanctions are slowing down Iran's space program. The launch was almost a year behind schedule, meaning the monkey astronaut likely has a long wait ahead of him.