The Mideast, never a region to rest easily, is once again on edge after Iran claimed Monday to have launched a monkey into space.
Fortunately, the monkey, whose name is not Netanyahu, survived the 75 mile vertical ride aboard the “Pioneer” capsule.
Iranian media said the launch, announced on the 27th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, was a “major achievement.”
I am sure most primates would agree.
Monkeys and space have a long history. In 1948, NASA launched a rhesus monkey named Albert from White Sands, New Mexico. His rocket exploded on the way up. The next year, Albert II became the first primate in space, but died after his parachute failed to deploy.
Albert III must have heard some things through the banana vine and gotten the heck out of there.
Later in 1949, scientists attached sensors to Albert IV for his historic ride. His vital signs remained good until impact.
In the early 1950s, the Russians began shooting dogs into space with better success. The first two survived. In 1957, the stray dog Laika (”Barker,” but originally named “Little Curly”) became the first Earth animal to survive an orbit of the planet. She died during the Sputnik II mission but not before scientists figured out humans could survive the rocket ride and weightlessness of space.
Russia’s Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth in 1961.
In the late ’70s, The Muppets first put Pigs in Space. I don’t recall any casualties in that venture, but after the death of so many critters, it would seem shooting another monkey into space in 2013 is an effort in cruelty.
The U.S. and its allies, notably Israel, worry Iran’s rocket technology could be used to develop long-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads.