The head of the Iranian Space Agency, Hamid Fazeli, announced publicly on Thursday that the Islamic Republic plans to launch a rocket into space with a monkey on board this summer, according to an AFP report.

The approximate date given is the Persian month of Mordad, which this year falls between July 23 and Augst 23.

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The rocket to be used is the Iranian Kavoshgar-5. The Kavoshgar-3 rocket, launched in 2010, carried a rat, turtles, and worms. The Kavoshgar-4 rocket, launched on March 15, 2011, was desgined to carry a monkey but the capsule was left empty.

The rocket will be equipped with a 285-kilogram capsule and will carry the monkey to an altitude of 120 kilometers (74 miles).

Western powers fear that Iran's space program, which first got off the ground in 2009 when it launched its first satellite, has military ambitions as the technology can be used for designing and launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the capsulde designed to carry the monkey into space in February. The Iranian Space Agency hopes to send a man into space by 2020.

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