Iran sends rocket filled with animals into space

February 04, 2010

WASHINGTONCHICAGOBEIJINGTEHRAN, Iran —

- Iran announced Wednesday it launched a menagerie of animals - including a mouse, two turtles and worms - into space on a research rocket, a feat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said showed Iran could defeat the West in the battle of technology. Ahmadinejad also unveiled the model of a light booster rocket that is being built and three new, Iranian-built satellites, touted as the latest achievements in the country's ambitious space program. The Iranian space program has worried Western powers, which fear the same technology used to launch satellites and research capsules could be used to build long-range intercontinental missiles and deliver warheads. A U.S. defense expert said there was no scientific purpose to launching such animals into space and that the launch was likely more aimed at boosting Iran's prestige. To test a life-support system of use to humans, "the obvious choice would be to send a monkey," said James Lewis, senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Worms in space serve no purpose."

- Baltimore Sun news services

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