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Iran to launch monkey into space

One small step for the primates of the Islamic Republic: 

Iran plans to send a live monkey into space in the summer, the country's top space official said after the launch of the Rassad-1 satellite, state television reported on its website on Thursday.

"The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched during the month of Mordad (July 23 to August 23) with a 285 kg capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 120 kilometers (74 miles)," said Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran's Space Organization.

In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a space capsule designed to carry a live monkey into space, along with four new prototypes of home-built satellites the country hopes to launch before March 2012.

This is a big step up from last year when Iran launched a craft carrying  "a rat, two turtles and worms."

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