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Originally published Monday, September 16, 2013 at 6:18 AM

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Iran mulls Persian cat as next animal astronaut

Iran says it is considering sending a Persian cat into space as the next animal astronaut after claims of launching a monkey earlier this year.

The Associated Press

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TEHRAN, Iran —

Iran says it is considering sending a Persian cat into space as the next animal astronaut after claims of launching a monkey earlier this year.

The effort is part of Iranian ambitions to send a human into space by 2018, but questions have been raised about the reported successes of Iran's animal missions.

Monday's report by the official IRNA news agency quotes space official Mohammad Ebrahimi as saying the next animal could be the distinctive Persian cat, a long-haired, flat-faced breed named after Iran's former name of Persia

No other details were given.

In February, Iran insisted it successful sent a monkey outside earth's atmosphere and returned it safely. But photos raised international questions about whether the same animal was shown in pre- and post-launch images.

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