On Monday, Iran said it had successfully launched a live monkey into space in a capsule, an event that is demonstrates the country's technological and scientific advances.
The animal was sent 75 miles above Earth in a Kavoshgar rocket capsule called Pishgam (Pioneer). While it has not been verified yet, authorities say the capsule returned intact and the monkey was still alive.
"The explorer rocket … returned to the Earth after reaching the desired speed and altitude, and the living creature (a monkey) was retrieved and found alive," a Fars news agency reported.
Press TV, the country's English-language television station, showed images of a monkey strapped to a chair before he was placed in the capsule. They did not reveal the location of the rocket launch.
The images spread online, and brought back memories of when animals were competing in US and Soviet Union programs in the 1940s and '50s.
America sent a monkey named Albert I to space in 1948, but it died before returning to earth. They also sent dogs into orbit.
This is the time of year when Iran often flaunts its technological and scientific advances, as it marks the anniversary of its 1979 revolution.
General Ahmad Vahidi said the launch was a "big step for our experts and scientists." He also revealed it is only the initial phase of a large plan to send humans to space by 2020.
"This shipment returned safely to Earth with the anticipated speed along with the live organism," Vahidi said. "The launch of Kavoshgar and its retrieval is the first step towards sending humans into space in the next phase."