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Iran says it sent a capsule capable of carrying animals into orbit as it prepares for human missions

by Madison Thomas
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Iran announced on Wednesday that it has successfully launched a capsule capable of transporting animals into orbit, marking a significant step in its preparations for future human space missions.

According to a report from the official IRNA news agency, Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour confirmed the launch of the capsule, which reached an altitude of 130 kilometers (80 miles) in orbit. This milestone is part of Iran’s broader ambition to send its astronauts into space in the years to come. However, it was not disclosed whether any animals were aboard the capsule during this particular mission.

In an interview with state TV, Zarepour disclosed Iran’s intention to send astronauts into space by the year 2029, following further testing involving animals. State TV broadcasted images of a rocket named “Salman” carrying the newly launched capsule.

Iran has intermittently announced successful satellite launches and spacecraft missions in the past. For instance, in September, Iran reported the successful launch of a data-collecting satellite. Additionally, in 2013, the country claimed to have sent a monkey into space and safely returned it to Earth.

The rocket, known as “Salman,” was reportedly developed and launched by Iran’s Defense Ministry, while the capsule itself was constructed by the Iranian civil space agency. The precise location of the launch was not mentioned in media reports, but it’s worth noting that Iran typically conducts its space launches from the Imam Khomenei Space Center located in the northern Semnan province.

Iran has consistently asserted that its satellite program is primarily focused on scientific research and other civilian applications. However, Western nations, including the United States, have expressed concerns about the program due to its potential dual-use nature, as the technology employed for satellites can also be employed in the development of long-range missiles.

In a notable development in 2020, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed to have successfully placed the country’s first military satellite into orbit, revealing what experts characterized as a previously undisclosed military space program.

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