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Iran Claims 'Major Achievement;' Says Monkey Was Sent Into Space

Iranian state TV says that nation today successfully launched a "living creature into space."

More specifically, it says a monkey was sent up about 75 miles and later "was retrieved on the ground, intact ... [and] alive." It's part of what Iran says is work toward a manned space program. According to Iran's Press TV, the nation's space agency plans to launch its first manned mission "within the next five to eight years." The monkey launch is being called a "major achievement."

The news — which has not been independently verified by news outlets from outside Iran — isn't welcome in many other capitals. As the BBC writes:

"Western nations have expressed concern that Iran's space program is being used to develop long-range missiles. Such missiles could potentially be used to carry nuclear warheads. Iran denies it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes."

Press TV says today's launch was timed to happen "on the auspicious birthday anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)."

Animals have been blasted into space since the late 1940s, as this brief history lesson from NASA shows. America's pioneer primate was Albert I. On June 11, 1948, he was aboard a V-2 Blossom that launched from White Sands, N.M. Unfortunately, he did not survive.

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