TEHRAN – Iran acknowledged Wednesday that its attempt to send a live monkey into space last month failed.
"The Kavoshgar-5 rocket carrying a capsule with a live animal was launched during Shahrivar," Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri said, referring to an Iranian calendar month spanning August 23 to September 22.
"However, the launch was not publicized as all of its anticipated objectives were not accomplished," Mehdinejad-Nouri was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
He said the launch of a live animal into space was "strategic, and a priority," and expressed hope that future launches would attain more of the objectives set.
On October 3, Iran indefinitely postponed plans to send a monkey into space, without giving any reasons.
"One cannot give a set date for this project and as soon as our nation's scientists announce the readiness (of the project) it will be announced," said Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran's Space Organization.
The project, unveiled in February by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, envisaged launching a capsule to an altitude of 75 miles (120km) for a 20-minute sub-orbital flight.
At the time, Fazeli touted the launch of a large animal as the first step towards sending a man into space, which Tehran says is scheduled for 2020.
In mid-March, Iran announced the successful launch of an earlier version of the rocket, Kavoshgar-4, carrying a test capsule designed to house the monkey.
Iran has already sent small animals into space -- a rat, turtles and worms -- aboard a capsule carried by its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.
The Islamic republic, which first put a satellite into orbit in 2009, has outlined an ambitious space program amid Western concerns the rocket technology may be linked to developing ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.
Tehran has repeatedly denied that its nuclear and scientific programs mask military ambitions.