Iran’s launching of a monkey into orbit was a publicity stunt that says nothing about its ballistic missile capabilities, Israeli space expert Tal Inbar said Tuesday.
Tehran on Monday launched a Pishgam (Pioneer) spacecraft bearing a primate to suborbital altitude and lauded the monkey’s successful return to Earth as “the first step for Iran towards sending humans into space,” according to semi-official Press TV.
Inbar, head of the Space and UAV Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, explained that the primate-bearing rocket was an unguided projectile that reached a maximum altitude of 120 kilometers (74 miles).
Assuaging fears that the space launch was indicative of Iran’s military technological abilities, Inbar said that there was “no connection between [the unguided, suborbital rocket] and Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.”
Iran, he said, has launched three satellites into Earth’s orbit, “none very successfully.”
Meanwhile, Ophir Doron, director of MBT-Space, IAI, speaking at the Eighth Annual International Ilan Ramon Space Conference in Herzliya, described space as a strategic depth and said that, in Israel, “space and national security go hand in hand.” The space industry, he said, “started from nothing” in the seventies and has risen to global prominence.
Today, Israel has attained “strategic independence” with indigenous development, construction and launch capacity. Israel’s four high-resolution surveillance space satellites, he said, put the country in second place after the United States.
Illustrating the importance of satellite imagery, he showed photos of the plutonium-based nuclear reactor in Arak, Iran, both with and without the telltale dome, and later, to illustrate the quality of the images, he showed a shot from Argentina, where ice falling from a glacier could be seen rippling the water below.