It was unclear if Iran launched the Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket into orbit or merely above the 100-kilometer threshold of space. It was also unclear if Iran planned to recover the animals.
According to Press TV, the rocket will transfer “telemetric data, live pictures, and flight and environmental analysis data. The Iranian Aerospace Organization (IAO) says live video transmission and the mini-environmental lab will enable further studies on the biological capsule – carrying a rat, two turtles and worms – as it leaves earth's atmosphere and enters space.”
Such an experiment could test the affects of zero-gravity on an organism’s behavior and orientation, says Logsdon, who founded GW's Space Policy Institute and served as its director from 1987 to 2008.
Mr. Ahmadinejad called the "miraculous satellite projects...key to the connection between God and mankind." But while launching animals into space is fairly cheap – on order of tens of millions of dollars – Logsdon says launching humans costs in the tens of billions.
“The questions is,” he said by telephone Wednesday, “Is this an early precursor of Iran being able to put humans into space?”
Iran launched its first home-built satellite into space a year ago. The Monitor reported it as a scientific milestone for the Islamic Republic that heightened concerns in the West that its expanding rocket technologies could be put to military use.
Now coming on the heels of the Obama administration's announcement to deploy new defenses in the Persian Gulf, Tuesday's test could raise alarms, reports the Wall Street Journal: “Many of the same technologies used in satellite development can be applicable to missile-delivery systems.”