Iran has successfully launched a monkey into space and recovered it alive, according to state media, which often serves as an official announcer for Iran's space achievements.

According to Fars News Agency, the official state media outlet, a Kavoshgar rocket launched the monkey inside a Pishgam ('Pioneer') capsule to "an orbit beyond 120km in altitude," indicating a suborbital trajectory. Video stills of the monkey, but not the launch, have been released.

The 28 January launch came without warning and remains unverified by publically-available detection services. No immediate independent verification is possible. A similarly quiet 2011 launch containing another monkey was said to have failed, though no details of either the launch or its failure were announced.

A 2010 launch successfully sent into space several smaller animals.

Iran has attempted to launch on four other occasions, according to Flightglobal/Ascend's launch database, including two successful satellite launches. The nation has a relatively advanced spaceflight programme, with stated ambitions to launch and recover humans by 2024.

Source: Flight International