Iran Says It Sent Capsule With Animals Into Orbit As It Prepares For Human Missions by 2029

7th Dec 2023
Iran Says It Sent Capsule With Animals Into Orbit As It Prepares For Human Missions by 2029

On Wednesday, 6 December, Iran announced that it had launched a capsule capable of carrying animals into space as it prepares for human missions by 2029. The capsule went 80 miles into orbit, according to a report by the official IRNA news agency.

The launch details

According to a report from the official IRNA news agency, Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour claimed Iran’s launched capsule reached an orbit of 130 kilometres (80 miles). State TV aired footage of the rocket named Salman ferrying the capsule into space. Isa Zarepour explained that the aim of the mission is to send Iranian astronauts to space in the coming years. He told state TV that Iran plans to send astronauts into space by 2029 after further tests involving animals.

He did not specify if any animals were in the capsule. The launch site and other details also remain unknown.

The meaning of Iran’s future missions

Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour stated that the launch of the 500-kilogram (1,000-pound) capsule is a strategic step toward sending Iranian astronauts into space in the near future.

Iran periodically declares successful satellite and spacecraft launches. Particularly, in September, the country reported the successful launch of a data-collecting satellite. Previously, in 2013, Iran proclaimed the triumphant launch of a monkey into space, marking its return to Earth as a success.

Iran announced it launched an animal-carrying capsule into orbit as it prepares for future human missions
Image credit: Iranian Defense Ministry via AP

Other counties’ suspicions on Iran’s space program

The US and other Western countries have long been suspicious of Iran’s space program. These suspicions arise from the dual-use potential of the technology, which is capable of aiding long-range missile development. The U.S. stated that Iran’s satellite launches defied a UN Security Council resolution. They urge Tehran to abstain from activities related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. 

In 2018, Former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal, prompting the reimposition of sanctions. Current efforts to revive the agreement have stalled. The International Atomic Energy Agency warns that Iran has enough enriched uranium for “several” nuclear weapons. 

However, Iran denies seeking nuclear arms, citing its space activities and nuclear program as strictly civilian and for scientific research. 

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