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Iran to Send Cat-Astronaut to Space

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 10:07 AM EDT

The next animal astronaut of Iran may turn to be a distinctive and locally named Persian cat, an official said on Monday.

The report by the official IRNA news agency comes seven months after Iran claimed it launched a monkey out of the Earth’s atmosphere. However, the account faced international questions after the difference in the pre- and post-launch images.

Mohammad Ebrahimi, a senior space programme official, said at the time that state media mistakenly sent a photo of an alternate monkey that was not used in the February launch. He instead insisted just one monkey was sent on the 20-minute flight to a height of 120km and also returned safely.

In 2010, Iranian officials said it sent a turtle, a mouse, and some worms on a space flight too. These were the part of the country’s goals of sending a human into space by 2018 and also becoming a leading tech centre for the Islamic world.

Ebrahimi also said Iran’s next space capsule could carry the Persian cat, flat-faced, a long-haired breed named after Iran’s former name of Persia. He said the launch will happen by the end of Iran’s current year, which ends March 21. A mouse and rabbit also are under consideration.

Past launches were done with solid-fuelled boosters whose technology can be used in long-range missiles. This launch is going to with a larger, liquid fuelled. Mr. Ebrahimi said it will be launched to a 120-km level too.

Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation. Apart from this, the country also wants to improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance in the region.

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