Monitor Mideast

Iranian Monkeys in Space

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Iran has reiterated her intention for a manned space flight by 2021—an inspiring goal for a nation with a nascent space program. This goal has found its fair share of criticizers but fact remains is that between the great things which the detractors deem Iran as being unable to do and those from which Iran is hindered from achieving, the real danger for Iranians is in not doing anything. Iran independently launched her first domestically built satellite in February of 2009 and thus became the eighth nation to do so—a feat indeed for carving out an indigenous program amidst layers of sanctions.

Of course, the rung of the ladder was never meant to rest the foot upon, but to enable one to raise the other higher. Iran intends to launch three domestically-built satellites by March 21, 2012. These will be the “Rasad” (observation), “Fajr” (dawn) and lastly the “Naved Elm-o-Sanat” (hopefulness for science and technology). A “Kavoshgar-4” (explorer) rocket is to be launched around the same period housing new systems and more peculiarly a monkey passenger—a probable prelude to manned flight.

Iranian television has of late shown monkeys, implanted with electronics, housed in capsules and enduring tests. Only yesterday, the Fajr was delivered to the ISA (Iranian Space Agency), mounting a camera for resolution up to 500m for surveying and meteorological research as well as an ability to alter its elevation. On the same day the development of a camera for a 20m resolution was publicized, meant for another planned Iranian satellite, the “Tolou” (rising). Additionally, earlier this same month three indigenous remote-sensing stations for tracking satellites were inaugurated. Whereas, the latest round of advances make evident Iran’s seriousness about her space program, they equally pose new questions for detractors who have viewed it as mere words or more ambitiously, a camouflaged military program.