The Times of London reported Friday that Iran's claim to have successfully shot a clearly terrified monkey into space — and of having retrieved the monkey alive — are likely false.
The Times notes that the monkey that was trotted out at the post-launch press conference was "manifestly a different creature" than the one pictured in the photos released right after the alleged flight. Plus, the flight was never televised on state TV, and videos released later of the rocket "appear unconvincing."
The likely explanations are either that the original monkey died during its flight and Iran didn't want to admit it, or that the flight never happened at all.
Space experts cast doubt on Iran's claims in interviews with BuzzFeed earlier this week and floated the idea that the incident was simply a cover for missile testing.
"It's possible they're lying about it. It would be kind of a bold lie to make," said James Oberg, a retired rocket scientist and NBC News space consultant.