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The recent sending of a monkey into space by Iran might sound like figment of the delusional mind of Karl Pilkington at first glance, but it did actually occur. In doing so, Iran joined a significant list of nations who have gleefully sent our simian chums into space over the years, although the 2013 launch was notable in the initial scepticism surrounding the health of the monkey astronaut.

The phenomenon of sending a monkey into space, however eye-raising, is hardly anything new. Animals were utilised at the start of the Space Race during the early years of the Cold War (a period affectionately referred to as the Lukewarm War by some) in lieu of humans to ensure such an outlandish idea was safe, with Laika the dog perhaps being the most well known animal in space. The Iranian monkey, named ‘Pishgam’ (the Farsi word for ‘pioneer’) wasn’t even the first monkey in space, with Albert being the first very astronaut chimp in space thanks to the United States’ fondness of blasting unsuspecting animals into space for science.

All of this might seem to be slightly ludicrous, but it is true: in order to fully test out the capabilities of spacecraft in the dawn of humanity’s efforts to reach the stars, numerous animals were fired off. Sadly, most did not survive their journey; the unnamed 2011 predecessor of Pishgam joined the ranks of Albert and fallen simian spacemen when his rocket landed intact. In achieving such a launch, Iran has neither facilitated a remarkable change or advancement in how spaceflights are conducted; instead, it now has demonstrated an ability to successfully and safely sustain rocket flights into space, a fact that is sure to make its neighbours uneasy, particularly if they are of the monkey persuasion.