The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter…
But I’m not as crazy as Iran’s rocket scientists who are planning on sending a cat into space.
–Kit Eaton, with apologies to T.S. Eliot.
Iran’s space program is all kinds of controversial, not least because (as with North Korea’s space rocketry) the same technology needed to send a capsule containing a craft into orbit and land it back on Earth is more or less the same tech you’d need to fire, oh, I don’t know… a nuclear weapon. The country caused a minor scientific furor earlier this year when it claimed to have launched a monkey into orbit and recovered it alive, even though before and after photos may have shown a different capsule and possibly a different monkey. Now the nation is pushing ahead with plans to develop ever-more sophisticated rocket technology in preparation for a launch of an Iranian astronaut by 2018. As part of the development phase, it needs to send more living subjects aloft, and it’s now thinking of sending not a dog, chimp, or common monkey into the blue: It’s mulling sending a Persian cat.
This is a two birds/one stone scenario, of course. If you can get as persnickety and aloof animal as a cat into space and bring it back alive and not overly hissed-off, that will generate all sorts of useful biological and scientific data to help build better rockets. This wouldn’t be the first cat to be launched, after all–France has tried before. And also it’s a Persian cat, which is nice PR because Iran was called Persia until 1980. There’s no information if Iran plans to trail a wobbly rainbow pattern through the sky in the path of the capsule.
But this is the nation that’s been caught embarrassingly fibbing about its technology through really, really bad photoshopping. So who knows if a Persian cat will ever orbit above your head?
[Image: Flickr user kitty.green66]