Reports this week of Iran’s “successful” launch of a monkey into space and its safe return were met with skepticism when images revealed that the space-traveler before the flight was replaced by a different monkey after the flight. It was launched into space with a prominent mole above its right eye. When it returned, the mole was gone. It could be heralded as the first successful cosmetic surgery performed in space, a claim that is about as credible as what Iran is actually saying.
After journalists picked up on the discrepancy, Iranian quickly asserted that a mistake had been made with the images. They’re still claiming that the flight was successful and the passenger is in good health.
PressTV, the state-run English language television network, called this “a very significant achievement on the part of the Islamic Republic.”
The news organization has not published the correction about the two monkeys, still leading with the story about the successful monkey mission and a separate story about being on track to send humans into space.
As The Times puts it, there are plenty of reasons to believe that it has all been fabricated:
More broadly, the regime continues to insist that its elections are the freest in the world, that it holds no political prisoners, and that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.