Iran sends monkey into space -

Iran has reportedly managed to put a monkey into space, and has safely brought it back to earth.

Iranian state TV reports that the space-ape was sent on top of the Pishgam (Pioneer) launch vehicle. The sub-orbital launch reached an altitude of 120 kilometers and the fortunate primate was recovered alive and well, oblivious of any geopolitical implications. His predecessor wasn't as lucky. In 2011, Iran also tried to put a monkey into space, but the launch failed. No official explanation was ever given.

Iran also managed to successfully launch other biological specimens in the past, including a mouse, some worms, and turtles. Earlier this year, Iran said it would try to put a monkey into orbit as part of its preparations for a manned mission, scheduled for 2020.

However, Iran's space program is not very popular in the West. Many believe Iran is basically using its civilian space program as a cover for ballistic missile development, with the aid of North Korean rocket scientists. Iran's nuclear program is another source of concern and the fear is that sooner or later Iran will manage to develop a viable delivery system for nuclear warheads.

Iran is still years away from developing long range ballistic missiles with enough throw-weight to deliver a warhead. Even if the rogue nation manages to develop a nuclear device, it will have to spend more time, effort and money before it can weaponise it.

The United States detonated its first nuclear device in July 1945 and the first thermonuclear devices were tested in the early fifties, but it took the US more than a decade to develop viable intercontinental ballistic missiles, tipped with thermonuclear warheads. First generation American and Soviet ICBMs were huge and took days to set up for launch, making them extremely vulnerable to attack. It took more than a decade to go from these behemoths to solid fuel missiles with multiple reentry vehicles, like the Minuteman III and Trident II we all know and love today.