Iran’s space monkey business

January 28, 2013

One small repeated step for man, one giant repeated leap for monkey.

Iran’s state television station says that it has launched a monkey into space.

I was worried, when I started reading the article, that this was all that had happened, and that it was up to the monkey to make its way down on its own. But the state station also insists that the monkey has returned safely to earth.

A still image from video footage released by Iran's state-run English language Press TV shows a monkey that was launched into space.(Press TV via Reuters)
A still image from video footage released by Iran’s state-run English language Press TV shows a monkey that was launched into space.(Press TV via Reuters)

I could do the first part. So could most countries. It is the getting-the-monkey-back part that is where the real difficulty comes in. So I am relieved to hear that he is okay, if presumably deeply confused. “All my friends are testing makeup products,” he will murmur, removing his fetching monkey spacesuit and staggering out of the capsule. “Frankly I would not recommend this cosmetic procedure.”

If true, as they say, this is news. If not, I wish they had gone a little farther and insisted that the monkey had also cloned itself while in space, come to understand what was going on with the plot of “Prometheus,” and figured out how to stop James Franco from joining any more graduate programs. You might as well go big.

I have a few quibbles with this story. First, they keep describing this as a “monkey-manned” spacecraft. I really think the term should be “monkeyed spacecraft.”

Iran has also launched worms, a rodent, and two turtles, which means that soon it will be able to start the world’s worst low-earth orbit petting zoo.

This monkey fared better than his 2010 counterpart, who will forever be remembered as the unfortunate Vladimir Kamarov of the Iranian monkey-space program, and marked a big step from the monkey doll that Iran last launched into space.

I understand that this is primarily of interest because of the eventual possibility for manned space travel, but why not first contemplate a monkeyed space program? There is a long and storied history of monkeys in space. It might be a nice compromise short of abandoning manned spaceflight, and it would give our army of theoretical monkeys something more productive to do than recreate the complete works of Shakespeare by typing at random, which could be done much more efficiently by machines anyway. And they could certainly come up with a better name than Virgin Galactic.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.
SECTION: {section=opinions, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=opinions, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Next Story
Alexandra Petri | January 25, 2013