Persian cat

Iran is looking to develop its aerospace program and eventually send a human astronaut to space. So what do they plan to do in the mean time? Looks like they’ll be shooting a Persian cat (or a mouse or rabbit, who are also under consideration) into space for safety tests.

Sending animals to space is nothing new for space programs. Reports of monkey astronauts are well-known and have even been turned into movies.

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According to CBS News, Iran sent a monkey to space just seven months ago in addition to worms, a turtle and a mouse. The monkey was reported to have arrived home safely, yet this claim came into question as before-and-after photos released to the media featured two different monkeys.

Mohammad Ebrahmimi, an Iranian senior space program official, said that the state media mistakenly sent a photo of an alternate monkey and insisted that there was only one monkey involved in the test, Pishgam or Pioneer.

But who to believe? It’s a tough call, especially since the history of animals in space offers a pretty grime aftermath for species involved.

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Iran’s new space launch is set to happen by the end of Iran’s current year, which ends on March 21. The space program plans to shot a liquid-filled rocket (solid-fueled ones have been used in the past) up 120 kilometers or 72 miles.

It is unclear if Iran’s space program is taking animal welfare into consideration for the Persian cat that may be sent inside the rocket. Some say that they are making no such considerations as it’s cruel to be sending an animal into space in the first place. Backlash to the decision has inspired the start of a Care2 petition asking Iran to halt their plans to send a Persian cat and any other animal into outer space.

Ultimately, the question remains, “Aren’t there better ways to test space safety that have nothing to do with electing an animal to meet its possible untimely and unethical death?”

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Image source: Magnus Bråth / Flickr