Iran Says It Sent Capsule Capable of Carrying Animals Into Orbit

Iran said Wednesday that it had sent a capsule into orbit capable of carrying animals as it prepares for human missions in coming years. 

A report by the official IRNA news agency quoted Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour as saying the capsule was launched 130 kilometers into orbit. 

Zarepour said the launch of the 500-kilogram capsule was aimed at sending Iranian astronauts to space in coming years. He did not say whether any animals were in the capsule. 

He told state TV that Iran planned to send astronauts into space by 2029 after further tests involving animals. 

State TV showed footage of a rocket named Salman carrying the capsule. 

Iran occasionally announces successful launches of satellites and other spacecraft. In September, Iran said it sent a data-collecting satellite into space. In 2013, Iran said it sent a monkey into space and returned it successfully. 

Reports said the country’s Defense Ministry built and launched the Salman rocket, while the capsule was built by the Iranian civil space agency. Media reports did not say where the launch took place. Iran usually makes launches from Imam Khomenei Space Center in northern Semnan province. 

Iran says its satellite program is for scientific research and other civilian applications. The U.S. and other Western countries have long been suspicious of the program because the same technology can be used to develop long-range missiles. 

In 2020, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it put the Islamic republic’s first military satellite into orbit, unveiling what experts described as a secret space program.