The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Here’s a photo of the sad-looking monkey that Iran says it launched into space

This photo, circulated by Iranian news agencies, purports to show the monkey that Iran says it placed in sub-orbit. ( <a href=""></a> )

Iran claims to have successfully launched a rocket, bearing a small monkey, into sub-orbital space some 75 miles above the Earth's surface. The above photo, released by Iranian state media, purports to show the monkey after his or her (it's not specified) safe return to Iran. Although "safe" is a relative term here, given that Iran's last effort at placing a monkey in space, in 2011, ended in failure.

The alleged rocket launch that put the monkey into space has not been confirmed by Western intelligence agencies. But that face certainly carries the expression of a creature that has just been launched, against its will, on a terrifying journey into the great beyond that its tiny brain could never possibly comprehend.

Iran says that its space program, like its nuclear enrichment efforts, are for strictly peaceful purposes. Western governments suspect they may be a cover for offensive nuclear weapons research.