Report: Iran's Monkey Mission Was Faked

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 1 2013 1:33 PM

Maybe Iran Didn't Launch a Monkey Into Space After All

An Iranian scientist holds a live monkey strapped into a chair at an unknown location on Jan. 28, 2013
An Iranian scientist holds a live monkey strapped into a chair at an unknown location on Jan. 28, 2013

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Remember way back to Monday when Iran surprised everyone by announcing that it had managed to send a monkey into space and bring it back alive? Upon closer review, it appears as though the Islamic republic's space breakthrough was a rather poorly staged fake.

The skepticism began to mount almost immediately after Iran announced the news. For starters, word of what would have been a major achievement for the nation's fledgling space program came only via state-run media and was never independently confirmed elsewhere. The initial report gave only vague details and provided no info on the timing or location of the launch or the landing. But those doubts then multiplied many times over after the world got a better look at the monkey that was greeted as something of a hero upon its return (or, I suppose, "return"). The British media is largely leading the charge on this one, so we'll let the Telegraph explain what appears to be a rather dead giveaway:

The monkey triumphantly presented to the nation’s media in his own silk tuxedo appeared markedly different to the creature that was pictured strapped into a rocked prior to its launch into space. That animal had light fur and a distinctive red mole over its right eye. But the monkey that returned was dark haired and had no mole.
Dismissing as remote the possibility that space flight had a dramatic physical affect on the Iranian monkey, international observers have concluded that either the original animal died in space or that the launch—timed to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution—simply never took place.
Advertisement

The Times of London, which also spotted the missing mole, also notes that the flight itself wasn't carried live on state television, and the video released later of the rocket that allegedly carried the monkey was less than convincing.

If the successful mission had been the real deal, it would have represented the biggest breakthrough yet for the Iranian space program. It also would signal potential international trouble because the technology used to launch a rocket into space can also be used in ballistic misisles.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.