The Islamic Republic of Iran has sent a monkey into space aboard an indigenous bio-capsule as a prelude to sending humans into space. The space capsule, code-named Pishgam (Pioneer), was launched on Monday on the auspicious birthday anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). On January 15, the director of Iran Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli said because of biological similarities between humans and monkeys, the latter were selected for the space mission. Fazeli further highlighted that the plan to send animals into the space is part of a broader project to send human beings on space missions. The ISA director stated that Irans first manned mission to space would be launched within the next five to eight years. Elsewhere in his remarks, Fazeli said the indigenous Sharifsat satellite will be put into the orbit by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (ends on March 20, 2013).