Mystery of the Missing Monkey

Iran has a problem, either with rocket launchings or with public relations – possibly both.

Last week, the Iranian space agency hailed the launch of a rocket into space with a vervet monkey named Pishgam aboard. They posted pictures of Pishgam before and after the flight, but according to Al Jazeera, The Guardian, the Times of London, and various online sources, the pictures showed two different monkeys. Pishgam “before” had a prominent birthmark and dark hair, both of which Pishgam “after” clearly lacked.

And while the Iranians showed dramatic footage of a rocket launch, images of its return and recovery were conspicuously missing.

No Pishgam, no parachute, no shipboard reunion with a beloved organ grinder.

U. S. State department officials said they could not confirm that a launch had actually taken place. Iranian spokesman Mohammad Ebrahimi insisted, “The monkey is in good health. The space flight didn’t have any physical effect on Pishgam.”

Of course that would also be true if Pishgam had stayed home.

Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks space launches, said the monkey with the mole was one the Iranians blew up in an unsuccessful launch in 2011, and that last week someone must have mistakenly picked up file footage from that. McDowell thinks the latest launch did in fact take place.

Still, no one has heard from the monkey, and no footage has been shown of the rocket’s return.

Now we’re left to wonder if the Iranians will try to back up their claims by showing yet a third monkey. That at least would reverberate with religious resonance, albeit someone else’s religion:

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

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Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.

3 thoughts on “Mystery of the Missing Monkey

  1. UPDATE: It’s Monday of the following week, and Iranian president Mahlmoud Ahmadinejad has announced that he is ready to be the first human sent into space by Iranian scientists. To which Senator John McCain replied in a tweet, “Didn’t he do that last week?”

    Yes, it’s very funny, but remember –this is the Senator who (along with Lindsay Graham) has been pontificating at hearings about imaginary failings in diplomacy on the part of Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice.

  2. Equating Ahmedinejhad with a monkey would be both redundant and pointless at the same time. In fact, better take a second look at that second monkey. Tell the truth: Has anyone ever seen the monkey and Ahmedinejad in the same room at the same time? Hah! I thought not.

  3. MONKEY PERSPECTIVE: Those three wise monkeys — See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? They paraphrase the Confucian code of conduct, although they stop short of the final precept: Do no evil. The triad is also reflected in one branch of Buddhism, and the wise monkeys may be seen in carvings at various locations in Japan, including a Shinto shrine.

    In the U.S., no monkey sightings have been reported among Presbyterians or Episcopalians, though two of unknown denomination used to work at Google.

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