In space
In space Israel news photo: Flash 90

Iran is planning to send yet another animal into space, according to its space agency.

The Mehr news agency on Tuesday quoted the director of Iran Space Agency's research center, Mohammad Ebrahimi, as saying the Islamic Republic plans to send a monkey, a mouse, a rabbit, or a cat into space.

Physical and technical tests have been conducted on a number of animals and the animal will be sent into space in the near future, he claimed, predicting that the necessary permits will be issued within the next month and a half.

Iran plans to send the second monkey into space aboard the Pishgam (Pioneer) II space capsule within 45 days, Iran Space Agency director Hamid Fazeli told reporters in Tehran, according to Mehr.

In January, Iran proudly claimed that it sent a live monkey into space, then succeeded in bringing it back alive.

However, photos that were published by the Islamic Republic of the monkey which it claimed had come back from space appeared markedly different than the creature that was picture strapped into a rocked prior to its launch into space.

The country’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, subsequently said that he is willing to be the first Iranian sent into space on behalf of the nation’s space program.

"Sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists," he said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) later had some fun with Ahmadinejad’s announcement, when he tweeted, “So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space - wasn't he just there last week?” citing the story on the monkey being sent into space.

The message, which was retweeted more than 2,000 times, quickly received criticism, with many calling the senator’s comment “racist.”