That was the “slug” for a story by The Associated Press this week – a slug is how journalists name their stories, consisting of its basic elements.
Iran space monkey?
I’m all in!
Super Bowl week? Sure. John Kerry as Secretary of State? Fine. Unrest in the Middle East? What else is new?
Iran space monkey?
Oh. My. Goodness!
We have a combination of two things that fascinate me – space travel and monkeys – with the addition of a saber-rattling Middle Eastern country that’s most likely to launch a monkey into space.
Most of the mainstream media coverage of the event focused on the potential of such technology for military use (what? They’re going to launch monkeys at us? Get the anti-monkey-aircraft guns ready!), but for the discerning eye, the beauty was in the details.
According to AP, a “gray-tufted” monkey was strapped into a pod “resembling an infant’s car seat.” That’s great writing!
Iran reported that the monkey went up 72 miles, to the threshold of space, before returning – undoubtedly bringing a heck of a tale back to his friends (“Some people call me the space monkey, some call me the gangster of love”).
And consider this tidbit: According to AP, Iran has previously launched a mouse, a turtle and some worms into space.
A turtle in space? Worms?
I understand the idea of orbiting a mouse, because I’ve launched one – a dead rodent that I was hauling from a shed to the garbage can a few years ago. It appeared to move – perhaps because the shovel I was carrying it in wobbled – and I launched it sub-orbitally into my neighbor Tom’s yard.
But let’s get back to the monkey. According to AP, the monkey wore “a type of molded body protection and was strapped into a red plastic seat. It was immobilized with straps and his face poked through a purple shield that covered his head and upper body.”
Also, the monkey parachuted to safety with the remaining stage of the rocket, landing in the middle of the desert (where else? We’re talking Iran!).
According to Hamid Fazeli, the director of the Iran’s space agency, the country plans to launch a larger rocket with a larger animal into space to “obtain greater safety assurances.”
A dog? A cow? John Goodman? A rhino? A whale?
The strange thing was that the entire event felt like we were strapping ourselves into a time machine – going back a half-century.
Launching a monkey into space? The Soviet Union sent a dog named Laika into space in 1957, igniting the space race with the United States. We sent several monkeys into orbit – including Albert, Albert II, Miss Sam and Little Joe, according to Wikipedia – during the same era.
And now Iran is doing it.
What’s Iran going to do next? Watch “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Bonanza” on TV? Add Alaska and Hawaii as states? Go to war in Vietnam?
I don’t know about you, but I found it funny that a country is launching monkeys into space and claiming they’re on the verge of manned flight.
However, I found it terrifying that Iran is nearing technology where they could send a barrel of monkeys (Seriously. That’s one of the options to call a group of them!) on rockets into the United States to attack us.
The only thing worse? The nation already appears to already have the ability to send mice.
It’s already my nightmare.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.