Iran 'sends monkey to space for second time'

media captionIran says it has successfully sent a monkey into space for the second time

Iran says it has successfully sent a monkey into space for the second time this year as part of a programme aimed at manned space flight.

President Hassan Rouhani said the monkey - named Fargam, or Auspicious - returned from space in perfect health.

However, the success of the first monkey flight was disputed when a different animal was shown in images released after the landing.

Iran's space programme has raised concern among Western countries.

Some fear the technology could be used in ballistic missiles.

Iran is already under international scrutiny over the scope of its nuclear programme, which opponents say aims to develop nuclear weaponry.

Wrong monkey

President Rouhani congratulated the scientists involved in the space mission, according to a message posted on the English-language version of his website.

On the Persian-language version, he said it was carried by a liquid fuel rocket - Iran's first use of the technology.

There were few other details, including when the flight took place.

In January, Iran said it had sent a monkey to an altitude of about 120km (75 miles) in a Pishgam rocket for a sub-orbital flight before returning intact to Earth.

But the release of images showing two clearly different monkeys prompted international observers to wonder whether the animal had died in space.

image captionIran said this monkey safely returned from space in January 2013

Iran insisted that was not the case, saying archive images of another monkey tested for its suitability for the mission had been wrongly released.

In 2010, Iran successfully sent a rat, turtle and worms into space. But an attempt to send a monkey up in a rocket failed in 2011.

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