Iran has already launched several animals into space, including a worm, mouse, turtle and a monkey named Pishgam (Pioneer). Now, according to senior Iranian space program official, Mohammad Ebrahimi, the next country’s next animal astronaut will most likely be a Persian cat, although another mouse and a rabbit are also being considered. In any case, the launch is expected to take place at the end of Iran’s year, which is March 21st.
The launch is also expected to be the country’s most ambitious venture into space, using a much larger liquid-fueled rocket than in the past, which were accomplished with solid-fueled boosters (the same type used for long-range missiles). He also stated that the rocket would go only as high as 72-miles above the earth.
While the international community is viewing this as part of a possible military build-up for the future, at a time when the country’s newly elected (more moderate) president Hasan Rouhani is looking to revive nuclear talks with the US and other world powers, Ebrahimi insists that his nation only wants to “put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance in the region.”