Tehran has announced several successful launches of satellites, dating back to 2005 in a joint project with Russia.
In November, the head of Iran’s powerful parliamentary committee on security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, warned that ‘‘no power can prevent Iran’s progress in scientific and nuclear science fields.’’
Similar statements were made last year when Iran announced plans for a new space center.
Few details have emerged on the new facility, but Iran already has a major satellite launch complex near Semnan, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Tehran. A satellite monitoring facility is located outside Mahdasht, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) west of the Iranian capital.
Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance in the region.
The mission involving the monkey drew historical links to the earliest years of the space race in the 1950s when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union tested rockets with animals on board, including American capsules carrying monkeys and Moscow’s holding dogs. Many of the animals on the early flights perished because of equipment failure or technology unable to cope with re-entry from sub-orbit.
Later in the 1960s, the U.S. and Soviets sent animals into orbit for further biological tests on space flight and other nations, including France and China, sent animals on rocket flights.
‘‘They’re following the path that we followed more than half a century ago,’’ Logsdon said, adding that Iran is probably ahead of India in terms of space ability, but behind its arch foe Israel.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it was ‘‘appalled’’ by photos of what it described as a ‘‘visibly terrified monkey crudely strapped into a restraint device.’’
It said it had urged Iran in 2011 not to send a primate into space.
‘‘Iran is repeating the wasteful and cruel mistakes that marked the darkest days of the space race,’’ PETA said in a statement.
Science Writer Seth Borenstein and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.