Iran said it was going to send a monkey into space in 2011, but that did not happen. Now, a senior space official has told the state-owned IRNA news agency that he is sending a Persian cat instead.
Despite Western sanctions that have crippled the economy, Iran insists it is considering sending the feline into space aboard the Kavoshgar satellite.
After performing tests on various animals, Mohammad Ebrahimi of the Iranian Space Agency said they decided the Persian cat was the best candidate for the job.
This isn’t the first time animals have been sent to space in place of humans, but animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has expressed outrage at the announcement. .
“Iran’s archaic experience… is a throwback to the primitive techniques of the 1950s,” said Ben Williamson, spokesperson for the group.
“European and American space agencies have stopped sending animals into space not only because it is unethical, but also because they have turned out to be bad models for the human experience and because superior and more scientific non-animal study methods are now available. “
Ebrahimi said the launch could take place as early as March 2014, but it remains to be seen if it will actually happen. Meanwhile, Western governments fear that Iran’s space ambitions may be a pretext for other, more sinister nuclear ambitions.
Iran denies having such intentions.
Persian cat image, Shutterstock