Mystery of the Iranian Space Monkey

Apparently Iran launched a monkey into space. The photos of the monkey, pre-flight prominently showed he had a mole over one eye, however the post-flight photos appear mole-free. This caused some speculation. They've explained it as a simple photo slip up. New York Times blog the Lede shares the story...

A senior official at Iran’s space agency confirmed on Saturday that state media reports on the launching of a monkey into the thermosphere had used images of two different monkeys. The official insisted, however, that the monkey had survived the journey and that Iran was not trying to cover up a failed flight.


  1. The question for me is why Iran bothered to send a monkey up in their vehicle when there is plenty of old data available from experiments done by other space agencies. We know how to do life support systems now. SpaceX aren’t sending animals up in a dragon capsule.

  2. I can sympathize.  Same thing happened with my space program.  I had a busy schedule, all the monkeys looked the same, and when I publicized my success, I sent out the wrong photos.

    And you know who was the most upset?  The monkey.  She had to endure a space launch and some other simian gets the credit.  Talk about a shit storm.

  3. Didn’t they doctor a missile test photo? I guess they fired/killed their photoshop guy after that incident.

  4. The conspiracy theories about this are beyond silly. This monkey-missile stunt is really quite meaningless — propaganda for people who don’t understand spaceflight.  It’s not particularly hard to build a little rocket that can toss a monkey 100km up in the air and come crashing back down. There are hobbyists that could do this with a bit of funding. Copenhagen Suborbitals are well on their way to doing it with a person.

    We know that the Iranians are able to launch orbital satellites — they’ve been able to do that for a few years now. Putting a satellite into orbit is immeasurably more difficult than putting a monkey into a suborbital rocket. I really don’t know who’s sillier — the Iranians who thought this monkey stunt was worthwhile propaganda, or the people who have convinced themselves the Iranians would need to fake this.

    1. It’s also entirely possible that the fucked it up and killed the monkey and had to replace it quick.  This isn’t a huge stretch, IMHO.  They had this easy propaganda stunt setup, and then they screwed it up and had to cover their asses in a hurry, which is why the stand in wasn’t a perfect match. 

      The “oops, wrong photo” thing could be basically “the dog ate my homework”.

      1. And why didn’t they just film the “it was a success!” video before the launch…
        And even then the people probably would have had the same clothes on…

  5. Space monkey get up, get coffee.  Space monkey wear hijab.  Space monkey have boring meeting, with a boring Punjab.

  6. Didn’t the guy who wasn’t wearing surgical gloves contaminate the monkey?  It looks like there was some concern about germs given the surgical masks and glove wearing hand in the photo.

  7. Reminds me of the time, when I was in first grade, and my mom accidentally killed my hamster while I was at school.  She panicked and immediately went out and bought a “lookalike” to replace him.  I was fooled for about three seconds.  “Where’s Cheebie, and who is this in his cage?”  

    I believe my hamster doppelganger was a better match than this monkey.  I’m disappointed in you, Iran, I thought you could do better than this.  They could at least used an eyebrow pencil to give him a mole, and a little Streaks ‘n Tips spray on hair coloring.

  8. Slow and steady Armstrongs the space race. Yes, THAT Armstrong.  

    Also, funny thing – we always thought my friend was butchered by his family back in fifth grade. But he just showed up yesterday, all Jumanji-style, and finally nailed that four-fecta with the B&O Railroad. I mean, he was using ‘Game of Life’ money, but I wasn’t going to say anything. Guy’s had it rough. That part that starts at his sideburn? And his parents certainly didn’t do him any favors with that whole ‘death to zion’ bridge club. I mean, the professorial beard and suit-with-no-tie-thing works now, but in fifth grade…let’s just say it was a ‘deterrent.’ Hang tough, Stretch. Hang tough.

  9. It was originally thought that the monkey had returned safely, but unfortunately it fell back into Iranian custody.

    (if I could remember where I heard that, I’d give credit).

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