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    Iran to send Persian cat into space

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    Iran says it has plans to launch a cat into space. A Persian cat, of course. Tehran plans to ramp up its space program, with the hopes of sending a human up by 2018. The nation's space agency is starting by sending animals starward.

    The announcement comes seven months after Iran announced it had successfully sent a monkey into space. However, careful scrutiny of before-and-after photos of the monkey astronaut raised questions about the mission's verity, or perhaps just its success.

    The photographs revealed that the monkey sent up returned with a distinct beauty mark above his right eyebrow, and if you have a very careful look, his tiny nose is wider, as well. This means either the whole thing was made up, or it really happened and the poor monkey that went up didn't make it down.

    All of this, of course, is upsetting people who care about animals, people belonging to groups such a PETA. They make a rather sensible argument that cats are way different from people, so what's the point of shooting them into space?

    But clearly, those vegetarians don't know people. Humans have been launching weaker creatures into space for hundreds of years. The first animals sent into space were actually lifted by a hot air balloon. No lie. It was the genius idea of a couple of French brothers called Montgolfier who launched a sheep, a duck and a rooster in balloon in 1783. And then, of course, the Americans shot a bunch of monkeys into space, and the Russians had Laika. And you know, this cat thing is not all that new either, because the French did it in the 1960s.

    The Iranians already sent a mouse, a turtle and some worms into space (in 2010), so maybe there's hope for this cat. Also, the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he wants to be the country's first astronaut, so maybe he'll help take care of the feline.


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