Iran says it sent a capsule with animals into orbit as it prepares for human missions

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Iran said Wednesday it sent a capsule into orbit carrying animals as it prepares for human missions in coming years.

A report by the official IRNA news agency quoted Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour as saying the capsule was launched 130 kilometers (80 miles) into orbit.

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Zarepour said the launch of the 500-kilogram (1,000-pound) capsule is aimed at sending Iranian astronauts to space in coming years. He did not say what kind of animals were in the capsule.

Iran occasionally announces successful launches of satellites and other space crafts. In September, Iran said it sent a data-collecting satellite into space.

In 2013, Iran said it sent a monkey into space and returned it successfully.

It says its satellite program is for scientific research and other civilian applications. The US and other Western countries have long been suspicious of the program because the same technology can be used to develop long-range missiles.

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