Iranian state television announced Monday that it had launched a monkey into space for a second time, just 11 months after it claimed to have successfully conducted tests with another primate and produced conflicting photos about the test, according to The New York Times.
The state media claimed that the country used liquid fuel for the first time to launch the rocket, named Pajohesh, meaning “research” in Persian. The monkey, a male rhesus macaque named Fargam, or “Auspicious,” allegedly has returned to Earth safely.
After reaching a height of 72 miles, the report said, Fargam’s capsule detached from the rocket and parachuted safely to Earth in a mission that lasted 15 minutes.
“The launch of Pajohesh is another long step getting the Islamic Republic of Iran closer to sending a man into space,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
The accuracy of the reported has been disputed by Western media sources, who point out that Iran has a tendency to tell tall tales about its technological abilities. Earlier this year, Israeli space expert Yariv Bash pointed out that footage from the first monkey space mission has glaring inconsistencies.
Bash noted that the monkeys look very different in before- and after-photos of the first launch, even having markedly different color fur. “This means that either the original monkey died from a heart attack after the rocket landed or that the experiment didn’t go that well,” he stated to the British Telegraph.
Iranian officials announced in October that they would be conducting a second launch despite widespread speculation about the first launch's authenticity.