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According to Iranian officials, the country launched a second monkey into space on 14 December and allegedly returned safely back to Earth after a 15 minute ride.

“President Rouhani appreciated the Iranian scholars for dispatch of the second monkey named ‘Fargam’ into space and its successful return,” said a statement on Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s official English language website.

“The President also congratulated the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian nation on the significant achievement. He wished further success for the Iranian experts.”

Iran successfully sent its first monkey, Pishgam, into space on January of this year on a similar rocket. But differences on the photographs of the monkey before and after the mission presented by Iranian officials led people from around the world to believe the mission was not in fact successful.

“It looks like a very different monkey, the nose, the features, everything is different,” Yariv Bash, founder and CEO of Space Israel, told the Telegraph. “This means that either the original monkey died from a heart attack after the rocket landed or that the experiment didn’t go that well.”

Senior Iranian space official Mohammad Ebrahim answered: “I say this with certainty that the monkey is in good health and the space flight didn’t have any physical effect on Pishgam. Some of the photos released by one of news agencies were not related to the time of flight. They were archive photos of the monkeys being prepared for the launch.”

Iran has further plans to send more live animals into space to continue their research in order to achieve their goal of sending a human to space by 2018.

Ebrahim announced back in September that the next animal could be a Persian cat around March 2014.

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