Iran said Monday it had launched a live monkey into space and called the mission a steppingstone to sending humans.
There was no independent confirmation of the launch, which was reported by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has sent a monkey into space aboard an indigenous bio-capsule as a prelude to sending humans into space," IRNA posted on its website.
Reuters, citing an IRNA report, said the capsule reached an altitude of 75 miles, or 120 kilometers, and then "returned its shipment intact."
"The Islamic Republic's state-run English-language Press TV said the monkey was retrieved alive," Reuters reports.
Iran launched its first satellite into orbit in 2009. That was followed in 2010 with the suborbital launch of a capsule containing a rodent, two turtles and worms. It reportedly attempted to launch a monkey in September 2011, but the mission failed.
Iran's rocket launch capabilities have raised concerns in the United States that the technology could be used to develop long-range missiles, which could potentially be armed with nuclear weapons.
Iran says its space program is for peaceful purposes.
Image: Screenshot form Iran state TV of the Kavoshgar rocket that apparently launched a monkey on Monday. via BBC News