Iran reports it has sent a second monkey to space. Fargam, or Auspicious, was launched into space and returned to Earth after 15 minutes, according to media reports.
Fargam follows Pishgam (Pioneer), as the second space monkey launched into space by the country this year. State-run media reports Iran launched Fargam aboard the Pajhohesh (Research) rocket early Saturday morning. The launch was televised and the rocket reached a height of 12 kilometers, around 74 miles, reports IRNA. Fargam's flight lasted 15 minutes, and during the launch Iranian scientists were able to monitor the monkey's vital signs and other readings from the rocket. Iran President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the team of scientists for their success on what was called the "First Day of the Week of Research," notes IRNA.
In total, this is the 2nd monkey sent into space & returned in perfect health to #Iran. I congratulate the Leader, scientists & the nation
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) December 14, 2013
In the address, Rouhani said Iran's space program will continue with another animal launch in the near future. The rocket used for the launch was the first to use liquid fuel, reports PressTV. The televised launch showed a helicopter delivering the capsule containing Fargam followed by the launch of a rocket. The coverage concluded with the presentation of the monkey, wearing a red shirt, to the media. Deputy head of the Iran Space Agency, Hamid Fazeli, announced the plans to launch a second animal astronaut into space in September.
The launch has drawn the ire of groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, and has raised concerns over the development of rocket technology, reports Agence France-Presse. Iran has stated that its space program is for scientific purposes and has no ties to any military efforts. The launch may have violated a recent agreement by Iran to stop their development of long-range missiles, reports Reuters.
Iran hopes to launch a human into space by 2020, notes AFP, and will continue sending animals into space to serve as a proof of concept ahead of any manned missions. In September Pishgam was launched into space, but many believed the mission was a hoax as photos released before and after the launch featured two different animals. Iranian officials claim the wrong photos were distributed after the launch but claim the mission was a success and Pishgam survived reentry.
Next up for Iran's space program will be the launch of three satelittes in March 2014. A video of the second Iran space monkey launch, courtesy of PressTV, can be viewed below.