Iran Wants To Send More Monkeys Into Space

Iran wants to send more monkeys in space as part of their own space program. When will it stop?

Iran is currently in talks with the P5+1 Group (United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany) in settling matters over its nuclear energy program at a meeting in Geneva.  The United States and and particularly Israel believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons out of their nuclear energy program.  Perhaps the belief stems not necessarily from the country's nuclear energy program, but Iran's space program.  Today, Iran announced that it would attempt to launch more monkeys into space, despite not really showing any of us with certainty that the last flight involving monkeys was a success.

The Iranian space program, run by the Iran Space Agency, remains minor, especially in comparison to larger, older programs such as the American, Russian, and Chinese programs.  However, Iran has shown that it is capable of demonstrating space flight on its own terms.  In 2009, the Iranian space program successfully launched its first satellite in space on its own terms, called Omid, using the so-called Safir SLV rocket.

In 2010, Iran made its first successful launch of sending animals in space, using turtles, a rodent, and some worms.  The Iran Space Agency attempted to send a monkey in space in 2011, but the launch failed.  The second attempt, in early 2013, was supposedly a success, though many in the Western media question if it was a real flight, or if the monkey has survived.  Now, the Iran Space Agency wants to launch another monkey into space, to prove that it is indeed capable of keeping animals alive in space.  The intended goal of the Iran Space Agency is to put humans in space using their own rockets by about 2020.

Of course, there can be a less than noble purpose to all this, which is what the P5+1 should be focusing on:  The rockets themselves are often made from military-based ballistic missiles.  That is the case with every space program:  The Mercury space program used rockets based off the Atlas ICBM, the rocket that put Yuri Gagarin in space was based on a Soviet R-7 ICBM, and the rocket that put the first Chinese astronauts in space was based on the Dong Feng 5 ICBM.  ICBMs are capable of having nuclear warheads attached to them, and their orbital reach makes it possible to strike anywhere in the world.  If anything, the P5+1 should be paying attention to how Iran handles its rockets, rather than its uranium: They may not use nuclear weapons, but they can use conventional weapons to attack other countries just the same with the technology they have.