Iran’s Space Monkeys Continuing Legacy in Space Biology 12 Years after Historic Mission

Iran’s Space Monkeys Continuing Legacy in Space Biology 12 Years after Historic Mission

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran made big strides in space biology in 2012 with the launch of the Pioneer Probe and the astronaut rhesus monkey "Aftab," followed by the Research Probe carrying the monkey "Fargam" in 2013.

Now, 12 years post-launch, a question arises: Where are these Iranian space monkeys and what is their status?

Space biology, exploring human habitation possibilities beyond Earth's orbit, has intrigued space scientists for decades.

Researchers globally have engaged in space biology studies and practical phases, marking nearly 80 years of space biology, initially experimenting with live organisms and eventually launching humans into space.

Tasnim News Agency's investigation revealed that a decade after their successful launch, Iranian space monkeys "Aftab" and "Fargam" are alive, well, and even expanded their families.

Presently, these monkeys reside in a designated center at the Royan Institute under the Aerospace Research Institute of the Ministry of Science.

Iranian space monkeys belong to the Macaca mulatta species, prevalent across Africa and Southeast Asia. With 22 identified macaque species, the Rhesus Macaque stands out, commonly used in biological and cognitive behavior experiments.

The Pioneer Probe's launch with the rhesus monkey "Aftab" to an altitude of 120 kilometers in 2012 marked a significant milestone in capsule biotic launches.

The Research Probe, in its second mission, carried "Fargam," a male Rhesus monkey, into space in 2013, reaching 120 kilometers from Earth's surface.

In the Research Probe's space biology research, three trained monkeys, Fargam, Toranj, and Torang, were involved, chosen to match study parameters.

This decade since the launch of "Aftab" and "Fargam" instilled hope among Iranians. The success fueled dreams of sending the first Iranian astronaut using indigenous probes. Since the thirteenth administration led by President Ebrahim Raisi took office, Iran's space industry has found new momentum.

Hassan Salarieh, head of the Iranian Space Agency, stated, "In the thirteenth administration, we aim to develop the spacecraft sector, critical for our country's space industry."

Salarieh stressed that "Space biology" is a priority.

Thanks to the efforts made in the thirteenth administration, the first biological capsule launch is anticipated during the coming days in 2023. 

The head of the Iranian Space Agency's recent statements, coupled with the announcement of an imminent launch of an Iranian biological capsule, signal a promising outlook for Iran's space industry and the domain of space biology.

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