After establishing Iranian Space Agency (ISA) in February 2004, Islamic Republic of Iran started their efforts of obtaining capabilities for prolonged and safe human spaceflight. For that purpose they invested large amounts of resources and time in developing their own launching systems, monitoring equipment, technology for scientific experiments and wide range of secondary objectives that are crucial for the development of such ambitious space program.
Tests for establishing feasibility of human flight started their operation in full force in early 2010 after ISA successfully launched into sub-orbit rocket Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) with biological cargo that consisted from one rodent, two turtles and several worms. This exploratory mission successfully returned to earth with all animals alive and well, and all scientific data present. With this success, Iran became sixth country in the world that has managed to send animals in space and successfully land them on Earth. To better prepare for the upcoming mission that would carry monkey into space, Iran launched Kavoshgar-4 (Explorer-4) on March 15, 2011 that had prepared biological probe for a monkey, but they elected to send the probe without living creatures on board. In September of the same year, Kavoshgar-5 blasted toward simple 20 minute suborbital flight carrying in its cargo one live rhesus monkey, however this mission failed prompting detailed investigation of all launch systems by Iranian scientist.
In May 2012 Iranian Space Agency announced that they would attempt to send another monkey into space before end of 2013. On January 29, 2013, Iranian state media reported successful return of the rhesus monkey from space. This event was conducted with the use of the rocket Pishgam (redesigned Kavoshgar-5), but sadly international media did not receive any details about the flight itself, except the news that monkey was indeed alive, well and was conscious during the entirety of the flight. Independent observation of the January flight confirmed safe return of the space capsule, with the apogee of the mission of 150 km (93 mi).
This successful flight proved to the Iranian scientists that their life support and capsule landing systems are operational. Iranian Space Agency plans to send manned mission into space in 2020.