Roscosmos, NASA to Build ‘Deep Space Gateway’ near Moon

space

Moscow – Humans are preparing for a new major step aiming at discovering more space-related secrets, and preparing to land on other planets in the solar system, along with building international space stations all around the globe.

In this context, both the US space agency NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos announced that they reached an agreement to implement another promising space project in order to conduct further studies on the moon and to establish farther stations, which will transport people deeper into space.

Astronauts from both agencies are currently working on establishing a lunar space station, which will house people and will be similar to the International Space Station built by Russia and the US where astronauts and experts from around the world would work.

Roscosmos and NASA signed the new station’s agreement on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress held in Australia on September 27.

The station will be known as the “Deep Space Gateway”.

According to Igor Komarov, Roscosmos’s general director, the first modules are projected to be completed between 2024 and 2026.

He noted that his agency would manufacture the parts and the vehicles that would form the station, suggesting that the techniques may be used later to create orbital stations around Mars.

The agreement signing came after over a year of talks between the two sides, during which they studied the details of the project, and shared the tasks during the implementation.

Given the importance of the project, the Russian space agency intends to adjust its financial plan until 2025 and will work with the government to secure the necessary funds for the project.

NASA confirmed the signing of the “Deep Space Gateway” agreement and said it reflects the common vision of space institutions in both countries to continue space exploration. It also described the lunar orbital station as a strategic step and a very important component of space exploration, which requires much study.

The agreement between the Russian and US agencies allows other countries to participate in the project, namely China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Scientists say the lunar orbital station will help humans build stations on the moon to study it more accurately. The station itself may be used as a platform to launch spacecraft to distant planets.

War in Space Is Becoming a Real Threat

Space

Among the memorabilia in Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s office is a fragment of the Wright brothers’ first airplane. But the most intriguing items may be two small plastic satellites on sticks that can be maneuvered to simulate a dogfight in space.

Space is now a potential battle zone, Goldfein explains in an interview. The Air Force wants to ensure “space superiority,” which he says means “freedom from attack and freedom to maneuver.”

If you think cyberwar raises some tricky issues, get your mind around this next big threat worrying the Pentagon. Similar problems exist in both the cyber and space domains: U.S. commercial and military interests are interwoven but deeply suspicious of each other; the technologies are borderless but are being weaponized by hostile nation-states; and attacks on satellites and other systems may be invisible and difficult to attribute.

Today’s digital world hangs on the satellite networks that invisibly circle the globe. They’re the wiring system for many commercial and military operations down below, and they’re highly vulnerable to attack. Russia has jammed GPS reception in Ukraine; China has hacked U.S. weather satellites; North Korea has jammed signals over the demilitarized zone.

The cloud overhead is thickening: As of mid-2016, the Union of Concerned Scientists counted 1,419 satellites orbiting the globe, including 576 from the United States, 181 from China and 140 from Russia. More than half are in low Earth orbit; most of the rest are geostationary, about 22,000 miles from Earth. Roughly 350 satellites, or 25 percent of the total, are for military use. At least 12 nations now have space-launch capability.

Space warfare has been a staple of science fiction for decades, but real-world fears were checked by a 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which banned the use of nuclear weapons there. But the treaty didn’t ban the use of conventional weapons in space, and Russia began its first anti-satellite weapons program in 1961, according to leading expert Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation. After the Cold War ended, fears eased about space conflict.

A wake-up call came with China’s 2007 test of an anti-satellite missile that destroyed a Chinese target in space (creating more than 3,000 dangerous fragments). The Chinese have now conducted a total of eight tests of satellite-killer rockets, Weeden says. Russia, too, has resumed similar tests. The United States is also thought to have what amount to anti-satellite rockets in the “midcourse” leg of its missile-defense system.

Rocket attacks against satellites worry the Pentagon less these days than electronic ones. Satellites could use jammers to sabotage other satellites. Ground systems can already create electronic bubbles that block GPS signals. The Russians used this technology to disable a Ukrainian drone in 2014, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, cited by Weeden.

Keeping space systems safe is crucial for the planet, but protection is dispersed among a jumble of overlapping and conflicting authorities. The military and the intelligence communities barely talked to each other for decades on this issue, but last year the Air Force created a Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center that will soon have about 200 representatives coordinating operations across agencies.

But military liaison with private space users is still primitive. A “commercial integration cell” at the Air Force Joint Space Operations Center (yes, it’s a different entity) works with six big companies. But most commercial concerns share their satellite-location data through the Space Data Association, based in the Isle of Man. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is eager to extend supervision of commercial flights to space activity, said Marcia Smith of Space Policy Online.

The United States is even warier of sharing its space secrets than its communications intelligence. There’s no “Five Eyes” partnership yet, though Britain, Australia and Canada are creating space-operations centers that could someday share data with an Air Force unit that was established 11 years ago. One little-discussed U.S. snooping operation is the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, which has four satellites monitoring the other traffic 22,000 miles above the planet.

As on Earth, the hidden danger is hacking, official or otherwise. Orbits can be changed; sensors can be blinded; data can be corrupted. Facts could become as fragile in space as on Earth, if systems aren’t protected. But first, suspicious space mavens must learn to talk with each other.

When space is a battleground, such cooperation is difficult. As Goldfein said in a recent speech, “There really is no such thing as war in space, it’s just war.”

The Washington Post

Amazon Has a Plan for Delivering Packages to the Moon

Amazon

London – The Blue Origin company owned by Jeff Bezos, founder of ‘Amazon’ specialized in e-trade services, reportedly pitched a white paper to the NASA in which it proposed to develop a cargo lander called Blue Moon in cooperation with Amazon.

The latest to offer a proposal is Jeffrey P. Bezos, whose space company Blue Origin has been circulating a seven-page white paper to NASA leadership and President Trump’s transition team about the company’s interest in developing a lunar spacecraft.

“Blue Origin’s proposal, dated Jan. 4, doesn’t involve flying humans, but rather is focused on a series of cargo missions. Those could deliver the equipment necessary to help establish a human colony on the moon,” according to The Washington Post.

It is noteworthy that the Blue Origin produces rockets and manages trial trips and commercial space trips.

US Boeing recently announced it intentions to use more than 600 pieces manufactured with 3D printing technologies to develop a rocket in cooperation with the Starliner.

The Space X owned by Elon Musk and the Virgin Galactic owned by investor Richard Branson, work on developing similar rockets to launch tourist trips to the space.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk revealed plans to dispatch a group of tourists in a trip to the moon expected by the end of 2018 – these plans are considered humble compared to his other project announced in September, aiming to establish a city on March within coming decades.

The World to Discover the Black Hole Soon

The World to Discover the Black Hole Soon

London- In an unprecedented global project, equipment of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which links nine telescopes across the world, has started collecting information of the “Sagittarius A” hole, aiming to capture the first picture for this massive hole in the Milky Way.

Jean-Pierre Luminet, director of the French National Center for Scientific Research said “In 1973, I was the first one to calculate on computer what the silhouette of a black hole might look like. 40 years later, I will see it in real life.”

Luminet said that telescopes used today are highly advanced, but researchers still ignore the real form of these black holes. He added that these holes have special magic and have inspired many filmmakers, like in “Star Wars”.
Samuel Boissier, researcher from the Astrophysics Lab of Marseille stated that this first-of-its-kind opportunity will finally accentuate the scientists’ understanding of physics and the existence of black holes.

Boissier added that the majority of galaxies contain black holes, but no one succeeded in taking pictures of them; these holes are very dark and are characterized with a very strong gravity, and can swallow all bodies and lights that approach them. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)’s project links nine telescopes in the South Pole, the United States, Chile, and the French Alps. The nine telescopes are programmed to work as one massive telescope.

Astronomers participating in this project have prepared themselves to take pictures for the great “Sagittarius A” and the gases flowing around it in 5-14 April. It is worth noting that flowing gases make the mission harder, as scientists have resorted to use radio waves to scatter them in order to take the long-awaited picture.

Sultan bin Salman: SCTH Offers Comprehensive Program to Minimize Dependence on Public Jobs

Vienna- Prince Sultan bin Salman, the president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told Asharq al-Awsat on the sidelines of the 29th edition of Association of Space Explorers (ASE) conference that Saudi Arabia has become a pioneer in the field of space launching.

Speaking of SCTH, Prince Sultan affirmed that it has a comprehensive program to reduce the citizen’s dependence on government jobs or social insurance, noting that Saudi Arabia is a country of high spiritual, economic and cultural value and is always in the lead.

The association was founded following a constituent assembly held in Paris in 1985, according to the prince. “I was asked to be one of the founders; meetings continued for one week to mediate between two rival parties – the U.S. and the Soviet Union – to establish common ground,” he continued.

Prince Salman hailed the achievements made by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology as it is considered a prominent scientific organization in the region and has relations and deals in the field of space with China, Russia, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). 

The Prince said: “We usually urge the youths to activate their participation in the space domain and we hope that Saudi Arabia participates via an astronaut in scientific research in the advanced technical and scientific fields.”

According to Prince Sultan, a comprehensive plan, prepared in cooperation with experts and residents of all Saudi regions and based on realistic vision and figures, was presented years ago.

“The impact of tourism and heritage in Saudi Arabia would have been bigger had this plan been implemented,” he added.

Prince Sultan stressed that the citizen comes first. SCTH focuses on this point, on Saudization specifically. Despite the obstacles that faced the authority, it still managed to be recognized as the second Saudized sector in the national economy, he said.

“Tourism now has an international organization affiliated to the U.N.; it is also one of the three basic factors of economy diversification, job opportunities and salaries. Tourism represented 20% of some countries’ income and this is a fantastic figure…We request sufficient funding especially that Saudi Vision 2030 tackles the importance of tourism and national heritage,” concluded Prince Sultan.

Scientists’ Gargantuan Enthusiasm over Saturn’s Titan

Washington- The American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently revealed that Titan, Saturn’s suitably named largest moon, to be “one of the most Earth-like worlds we have found to date.” It has a dense atmosphere and stable lakes and rivers.

Its air isn’t breathable, almost entirely composed of nitrogen, with a little methane instead of the human-friendly oxygen, and its rivers, lakes and oceans are full of liquid methane and ethane– and at -290 Fahrenheit, Titan seems to be way too cold for a human to survive on.

However, the agency believes that if you had a breathing mask and the best thermal underwear ever tailored, you could jump around in gravity a bit weaker than our own moon’s and see some surprisingly Earth-like features. You might even see some lava-style liquid water churning out of volcanoes.

According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Saturn’s curious world might have what we call prebiotic conditions — chemicals that could theoretically come together to build and support life as we know it.

The Washington Post cited Martin Rahm’s statement on the subject saying that “we are used to our own conditions here on Earth. Our scientific experience is at room temperature and ambient conditions. Titan is a completely different beast.”

Rahm is a postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at Cornell and lead author of the new study.

According to Rahm and his colleagues, one of the things that make Titan outright uninviting to Earthlings — the abundance of noxious hydrogen cyanide that forms when sunlight hits the hazy atmosphere — could actually help support life.

They showed that it’s possible, at least hypothetically, for hydrogen cyanide to react with some of the other molecules found on Titan to produce molecular chains or polymers, including one called polyimine.

Albeit that wouldn’t mean much under earthly conditions; at Titan’s temperatures, they say, polyimine could potentially have the kind of properties that would support microbial evolution.

It would be flexible, according to the researcher’s models, allowing it to adopt more than one structure, and its ability to absorb sunlight might help it provide energy for life in the primal phase.

Not even this computer modeling showed exactly how life would come together on Titan, so it’s proved to be still early for humans to go alien hunting.

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Loops into Orbit around Jupiter

Artist's concept of Juno spacecraft

After a five year journey from Earth to Jupiter, NASA’S Juno spacecraft made it with a do-or-die engine burn that looped it into orbit to probe the origins of the biggest planet in the solar system and how it impacted the rise of life on Earth, the U.S. space agency said.

It fired its main engine, slowing its velocity, and allowing it to get captured into Jupiter’s hefty orbit.

After it was complete, jubilant scientists fronted a press conference, and tore up a “contingency communication strategy” they said they prepared in case things went wrong.

“To know we can go to bed tonight not worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow, is just amazing,” said Diane Brown, a project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Juno fired its main engine beginning at 11:18 p.m. EDT/0318 Tuesday GMT.

Launched from Florida nearly five years ago, Juno needed to be precisely positioned, ignite its main engine at exactly the right time and keep it firing for 35 minutes to become only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.

If anything went even slightly awry, Juno would have sailed helplessly past Jupiter, unable to complete a $1 billion mission.

Once in position to begin its 20-month science mission, Juno will fly in egg-shaped orbits, each one lasting 14 days, to peer through the planet’s thick clouds, map its gargantuan magnetic field and probe through the crushing atmosphere for evidence of a dense inner core.

The probe also will hunt for water in Jupiter’s thick atmosphere, a key yardstick for figuring out how far away from the sun the gas giant formed.
Jupiter’s origins, in turn, affected the development and position of the rest of the planets, including Earth and its fortuitous location conducive to the evolution of life.

Jupiter, which could hold 1,300 Earths, orbits five times farther from the sun than Earth, but it may have started out elsewhere and migrated, jostling its smaller sibling planets as it moved.

Earth and Mars were positioned at the right distance from the sun for liquid surface water, which is believed to be necessary for life. Scientists have been studying Mars to figure out why the planet lost its water.

Jupiter’s immense gravity also diverts many asteroids and comets from potentially catastrophic collisions with Earth and the rest of the inner solar system.

“We are learning about nature, how Jupiter formed and what that tells us about our history and where we came from,” said Juno lead scientist Scott Bolton, with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

NASA expects Juno to be in position for its first close-up images of Jupiter on Aug. 27, the same day its science instruments are turned on for a test run.

Only one other spacecraft, Galileo, has ever circled Jupiter, which is itself orbited by 67 known moons. Bolton said Juno is likely to discover even more.

Seven other U.S. space probes have sailed past the gas giant on brief reconnaissance missions before heading elsewhere in the solar system.

The risks to the spacecraft are not over. Juno will fly in highly elliptical orbits that will pass within 3,000 miles (4,800 km) of the tops of Jupiter’s clouds and inside the planet’s powerful radiation belts.

Juno’s computers and sensitive science instruments are housed in a 400-pound (180-kg) titanium vault for protection. But during its 37 orbits around Jupiter, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of 100 million dental X-rays, said Bill McAlpine, radiation control manager for the mission.

The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is expected to last for 20 months. On its final orbit, Juno will dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere, where it will be crushed and vaporized.

Like Galileo, which circled Jupiter for eight years before crashing into the planet in 2003, Juno’s demise is designed to prevent any hitchhiking microbes from Earth from inadvertently contaminating Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa, a target of future study for extraterrestrial life.

European probe lands on comet, but fails to anchor down

European Space Agency animation of Philae lander separating from mothership Rosetta and descending to surface of comet. (EPA/ESA/ATG Medialab)
European Space Agency animation of Philae separating from mothership Rosetta and descending to surface of comet. (EPA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

Berlin and Frankfurt, Reuters—The European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet on Wednesday, a first in space exploration and the climax of a 10-year-odyssey, but an anchoring system problem may hamper planned investigations into the origins of Earth and the solar system.

The 220-pound (100-kilogram) lander—virtually weightless on the comet’s surface—touched down on schedule at about 1600 GMT after a seven-hour descent from its orbiting mothership Rosetta, now located 300 million miles (500 billion kilometers) from Earth.

But during the free-fall to the comet’s surface, harpoons designed to anchor the probe, named Philae, failed to deploy. Flight directors are considering options to ensure the lander does not drift back into space.

“The lander may have lifted off again,” Stefan Ulamec, Philae lander manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center, told reporters. “Maybe today we just didn’t land once, but landed twice. Hopefully we are sitting there on the surface and can continue our science sequence.”

Scientists hope that samples drilled out from the comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, will unlock details about how the planets—and possibly even life—evolved, as the rock and ice that make up comets preserve ancient organic molecules like a time capsule.

Comets date back to the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. Scientists suspect impacting comets delivered water to early Earth.

“How audacious, how exciting, how unbelievable to be able to dare to land on a comet,” NASA’s director of Planetary Science, Jim Green, said at the European Space Operations Center in Germany after the successful touchdown.

Manmade craft have now landed on seven bodies in space: the moon, Mars, Venus, Saturn’s moon Titan, two asteroids, and comet Tempel-1, which was hit by a NASA probe.

Among several records set by the mission, Rosetta has become the first spacecraft to orbit a comet rather than just flying past to take pictures.

Rosetta reached the comet, a roughly 2-by-3-mile rock discovered in 1969, in August after a journey of 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) that took 10 years, five months and four days—a mission that cost close to 1.4 billion euros (1.8 billion US dollars).

“What really nails this experience for me are the images,” Daniel Brown, an expert in astronomy at Nottingham Trent University, said via email after three-legged Philae had relayed data and images back to Earth as it moved toward the comet.

“Especially exciting will be getting the results of the samples recovered from below the surface and seeing their chemical composition,” he said.

Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes in California

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket explodes in mid-air during a test flight above the Mojave Desert in California October 31, 2014. (Reuters/Kenneth Brown)
The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket explodes in mid-air during a test flight above the Mojave Desert in California October 31, 2014. (Reuters/Kenneth Brown)

Mojave, Reuters—Richard Branson is set to meet his Virgin Galactic space team in California’s Mojave Desert on Saturday following the crash of a passenger spaceship being developed by his company that killed one pilot and seriously injured the other.

The entrepreneur has pledged to keep up the drive for space travel, saying on the company’s web site: “Space is hard—but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together.”

Friday’s crash of the suborbital vehicle, undergoing its first powered test flight since January over the Mojave, 95 miles (150 km) north of Los Angeles, was the second disaster suffered by a private space company in less than a week, dealing a blow to the fledgling commercial space launch industry.

On Tuesday, an Antares rocket built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp exploded after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, destroying a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.

In the Virgin crash, one pilot body was found in the wreckage, while the second pilot, who ejected and parachuted to the ground, survived with serious injuries, according to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

The survivor was found more than a mile from the main wreckage of SpaceShipTwo near the Mojave Air and Space Port, he said.

Television footage of the crash site showed wreckage of the spacecraft lying in two large pieces on the ground, and the company said the spacecraft was destroyed. Youngblood said a debris field was spread over more than a mile.

Both crew members were test pilots for Scaled Composites, the Northrop Grumman Corp subsidiary that designed and built the spacecraft for Virgin and lost three other employees in a July 2007 ground test accident.

“While not a NASA mission, the pain of this tragedy will be felt by all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploration,” NASA, the US space agency, said in a statement.

The crash occurred shortly after the craft separated from the jet airplane that carried it aloft for its high-altitude launch.

Scaled Composites President Kevin Mickey told a news conference on Friday the ill-fated flight was the first using a new rocket fuel formula the company switched to in May. He said the formula “had been proven and tested on the ground” before Friday’s test launch.

The US National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending one of its teams to investigate.

More than 800 people have paid or put down deposits to eventually fly aboard the spaceship, which is hauled to an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13.7 km) and released by Virgin’s White Knight Two carrier jet airplane.

Cost of a ride on the ship now goes for $250,000 and among those who have signed up are celebrities including singer Lady Gaga and actors Angelina Jolie and Ashton Kutcher.

The Virgin and Antares back-to-back accidents are set backs for he commercial space launch industry, which has been taking on more work traditionally done by the governments while also expanding for-profit space markets, including tourism.

What Happened to the Space Monkey?

For the past three years in Tehran’s Nasir Khusraw Street-where several licensed pharmacies compete to sell medicine-there has been a thriving black market trade in pharmaceuticals. Despite repeated campaigns launched by Iranian health bodies to eliminate this phenomenon, the authorities have begun to turn something of a blind eye towards what is happening, because some of the essential medicines being sold there are no longer available in official outlets due to international sanctions. The company Darou Pakhsh, which is the largest pharmaceutical supplier in Iran (accounting for a third of the market), recently announced it would be halting its production of some medications due to a lack of essential materials and foreign companies refusing to deal with their Iranian counterparts for fear of being fined by the US and European authorities.

This is not the first time that Iran has suffered a shortage of imported pharmaceutical drugs. Over the past three decades the country has repeatedly been subjected to Western and international sanctions. As a result of this, the Iranian market has grown accustomed to making up the shortfall in imports through locally produced alternatives or orientating towards Asian markets where international controls over some trading ports are weaker. This is not to mention the fact that the Iranian regime, through multiple organs, has mastered the art of smuggling and circumventing sanctions by changing names and switching between domestic and foreign brokers. However, there are those who argue that the sanctions this time might prove a defining moment, citing the significant implications that have begun to emerge so far as a direct result of this.

For example, an Iranian parliamentary report revealed that oil revenues have fallen by 45 percent, according to estimates from the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, while the Iranian rial has lost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar over the past two years. Earlier this month, Air France announced that it had cancelled flights to Tehran, making Lufthansa the only European airline still flying to Iran. It was noticeable in Air France’s statement that the decision was based on economic, not political, considerations, meaning that regardless of the political risk, it is no longer profitable to fly to Tehran.

Of course there are contradictory news reports about the real impact of these sanctions. At a time when economic indicators seem bad, Tehran also appears regionally active. It is no secret that the Iranians are providing the Syrian regime with military supplies, and even contributing financially to its survival. We do not know the exact amount of money President Assad’s regime is receiving from its Iranian allies, but there is no doubt that the Syrian regime no longer possesses significant government revenues given that the civil war has reached its current stage. Furthermore, Tehran claims it is providing Afghanistan with electricity generators, probably in an effort to compensate for the US withdrawal from the troubled country. With regards to minimizing the impact of the sanctions, Iranian officials have boasted that their gas exports to Turkey have not been affected despite Tehran’s position regarding the war in Syria. However are conditions truly that bad? At the Davos forum in Switzerland one can hear two distinct points of view on the matter, the first being that the recent sanctions differ from previous ones, and that by necessity they will force Iran to its knees, despite Tehran’s current arrogance and obstinacy.

Renowned diplomat Henry Kissinger surprised his audience at Davos by confirming that a decision on the Iranian nuclear project will take place in the foreseeable future, which has prompted some to question whether the prominent realist has inside information about a political deal or an imminent war plan.

As for the other point of view, this has been represented by Vali Nasr (author of The Shia Revival). The US academic argues that after six months Iran was able to overcome the sanctions, stressing that Tehran has followed the example of North Korea, in other words joining the nuclear club first and then negotiating to ease sanctions.

A few days ago the Iranian authorities announced that they had successfully managed to send what they referred to as a “living being” into space. State media broadcasted televised footage of a monkey being strapped into place, followed by still images of the rocket and the launch, together with a voiceover from a commentator who said that the experiment was a “cognitive leap” for experts and researchers, adding that Iran could send a man into space by 2020. Meanwhile, US officials criticized Iran for bypassing international law, and the Israelis doubted the success of the mission. On Iranian social networking sites there was a flurry of jokes and comments on the news, with some questioning the mystery behind the officials’ decision to say “living being” instead of “monkey”, while others called for the monkey’s name to be revealed along with his future plans after recording this unprecedented achievement in the history of Iranian space science. Of course, there were also those who questioned the success of the experiment, calling on the authorities to provide evidence that the capsule and “living being” landed safely, or for an interview with the monkey to dispel doubts.

In any case, the timing of the experiment represents an attempt to respond to the issue of sanctions. At a time when Iranians lack medicines for serious and fatal diseases, the authorities can send a monkey into space, or at least a distance of a hundred kilometers, as their experts say.

In his excellent book, “The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran”, Roy Mottahedeh, quoted poet Omar Khayyam: “One thing is certain, that life flies; One thing is certain, and the rest is lies” So let us just assume that the monkey, when travelling into space, was swallowed by a black hole!