Iran said it was going to send a monkey into space in 2011, but that didn’t happen. Now a top space official has told the state news agency IRNA that it’s sending a Persian cat instead.
Despite western sanctions that have crippled the economy, Iran insists that it is planning to send the feline to space aboard the Kavoshgar satellite carrier.
After conducting tests on various animals, Mohammad Ebrahimi from the Iranian Space Agency said that they have decided that the Persian cat is the best candidate for the job.
This is not the first time that animals have been dispatched to outer space in lieu of humans, but the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has expressed outrage at the announcement.
“Iran’s archaic experiment… is a throwback to the primitive techniques of the 1950s,” said Ben Williamson, a spokesman for the group.
“European and US space agencies stopped sending animals into space not only because it is unethical but also because they turned out to be poor models for the human experience and because superior, more scientific non-animal methods of study are now available.”
Ebrahimi said the launch could take place as soon as March, 2014, but it remains to be seen whether it will actually happen. Meanwhile, western governments fear Iran’s space ambitions are a pretext for some other, more sinister nuclear ambitions.
Iran denies having any such intentions.
Image of Persian Cat, Shutterstock