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.
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