Iran made headlines on Monday for apparently sending a monkey into space and bringing it back down to Earth again. Having previously sent a rat, turtle and worms (I’m not sure if this was on separate occasions or a group deal) into orbit, delivering a primate into the stratosphere had so far eluded them.
The stated aim of the theocratic republic is to send a man into space by 2019. For what purpose, I cannot be sure, but the real concern is Iran’s covert intention to develop nuclear warheads and a mechanism for delivery, something their ‘space programme’ is surely designed to obfuscate.
However, it would appear that all is not what it seems and the entire thing may have been a fabrication. Observers have pointed out that there are clear differences in the appearance of the ‘before’ monkey and the ‘after’ monkey and that, apart from the footage provided by the Iranian government, there is no other evidence of a rocket launch taking place. So did they launch a rocket but not return the monkey? Or was the entire event just a piece of uninspiring theatre? Given the Iranian government’s reputation for evasiveness we will probably never know.
Really, though, this is a wasted opportunity on their part. If you’re going to lie about something like this, then lie big. Go to town with it. Say you’ve blasted a walrus to Mars or that you’ve perfected time travel and sent a duck back to Weimar Germany or something. If you’re going to waste everybody’s time on a ruse, then at least be creative. Both the USA and the USSR sent monkeys into space in the 1950s – this is no longer considered impressive. It’s been done before. You might as well claim to have invented butter or the combustion engine. Come on, Iran, raise your game. We expect better.
Clearly, theocracy stunts the imagination.