Iran considers the launch a prelude to sending humans into space.
Iran claims that it sent a living organism -- a monkey -- into space for the first time ever, without help from any other countries—and brought it back alive. Iran's state controlled media announced the news this morning, without giving much detail, but had previously announced last month that a specially designed "bio-capsule" would soon be launched on one of their Kavoshgar (Explorer) 5 rockets, as a "prelude to sending humans into space."
The move is the same preliminary step followed by almost every national space program, though they are obviously slightly behind the schedule set by the great space powers. The U.S. first sent a monkey into space in 1948, but it would be 11 more years before they would manage to bring one back alive. (In case you're wondering, Able and Miss Baker were the first primates to survive space flight.) Then again, Iran only put its first satellite into orbit in 2009, so they're actually making pretty good progress.