A Persian cat could be the next animal Iran launches into space.
Iranian officials made the announcement through the official IRNA news agency on Monday, months after officials claimed to have successfully launched a gray monkey
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Whether or not the Iranian monkey actually survived the space launch as the rocket traveled 72 miles in 20 minutes is up for debate. The government released photos of the primate pre- and post-launch, and it appears the photos depict two different monkeys, The Associated Press reported
Mohammad Ebrahimi, a senior official in the Iranian space program, blamed the discrepancy on the media, claiming that one of the photos news outlets published was not the one they had released.
In 2010, the Iranian space program sent a mouse, turtle, and some worms into space, with the goal of sending humans into space by 2018, the AP reported.
Ebrahimi said Iran's next space capsule, which is expected to launch in March, will likely be a long-haired, flat-faced Persian cat, as well as possibly a mouse and rabbit.
Iran's aerospace program has raised concerns among Western nations that Iran is aiming to further its military goals for the purpose of gaining control of the region.
The Islamic Republic reportedly acknowledged that while its space program would be used to expand military surveillance, the satellites would also monitor natural disasters in the region. Iran is prone to earthquakes, and the satellites could improve the region's telecommunications network.
In its announcement on Monday, Ebrahimi also said that the nation's aerospace program would use larger, liquid-fueled rockets as opposed to solid-fueled boosters it had in the past that could have been used in long-range missile launches.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier this year that he wanted to be the nation's first astronaut.
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