Iran claims that it sent a living organism into space for the first ever, without help from any other countries, and brought it back alive. Iran's state controlled media announced the news this morning, with out much detail, but had announced last month that a specially designed "bio-capsule" would soon be launched on one of the Kavoshgar (Explorer) 5 rocket, as a "prelude to sending humans into space."
#BREAKING: Iran sends monkey into space: Al-Alam TV— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) January 28, 2013
The move is the same preliminary step followed by almost everyone national space program, though they are obviously slight behind the schedule set by the great space powers. The U.S. first sent a monkey into space in 1948, but it would 11 more years before they would manage to bring one back alive. (Able and Miss Baker were the first primates to survive space flight.) Then again, Iran only put its first satellite into orbit in 2009, so they're actually making pretty good progress.
If the new report is confirmed, building and successfully launching a completely "indigenous" space vehicle would be a significant technological accomplishment for a nation that's desperate to join the major powers. And one that isn't likely to be sabotaged by shadowy Western agents, like their nuclear program often has been. However, until the monkey makes a statement the news remains, sadly, unconfirmed.