Hit & Run: The zero-gravity zoo

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As Iran's dispute with the US over its nuclear programme rumbles on, the Iranians have chalked up at least one psychological victory over their superpower rivals: yesterday the Tehran administration announced the successful launch of a Kavoshgar-3 missile into space, just days after Barack Obama confirmed the curtailment of Nasa's ambitions to return men to the Moon.

Naturally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that the launch proved Iran could outdo the West's technological prowess. However, while the Kavoshgar-3 is capable of blasting satellites into orbit, in this case it carried only a rat, two turtles, and a handful of worms. The Americans, it should be noted, launched their first rodent beyond the atmosphere in August 1950. It was a mouse.

The long and illustrious history of astronautical animals begins with the fruit flies that Nasa put aboard a V-2 rocket in 1947. Before any mice joined the space programme, rhesus monkey "Albert 2" became the first creature cute enough to make it to space with a first name. that was 1950. In 1951, the Soviet Union sent two dogs to space; both returned alive. However, Laika, the stray Jack Russell famous for being the first animal in orbit – in 1957 – died aboard her satellite, Sputnik 2. A monument commemorating her sacrifice was unveiled in Moscow in 2008.

In 1958, the US started using more monkeys to, er, "man" their Jupiter rockets. The first, Gordo, perished on re-entry. But Able (a rhesus) and Baker (a Peruvian squirrel monkey) made it home safely. Sadly, Able died four days later due to complications following surgery to remove an infected medical electrode. While the US liked primates to pilot their rockets – sending Ham the Chimp (above) and Bonny the Macaque to space in 1961 and '69 respectively – the Soviets preferred canines: In 1960 Sputnik 5 took two dogs to orbit and returned them alive; one of their pups was later given by Kruschev as a gift to Caroline Kennedy.

The French, meanwhile, sent a rat to space in 1961, followed by a cat named Felix in 1963. The Japanese, latecomers to the party after China had also launched rats and dogs in the Sixties, took tree frogs and newts to space during the 1990s. The Iranian turtles aren't even the first reptiles in space. In 1975, Soviet tortoises set the record for space stamina after spending more than 90 days in flight. So, Mahmoud, come back to us when you've got something interesting up there, like a llama, maybe. Then we'll talk.

Tim Walker

Posh shoots herself in the foot

Life is one long photo opportunity for Victoria Beckham, so she's rarely seen without towering stilettos and a full face of make-up. You've got to wonder then, why she let the dreaded paps get a shot of her unsightly bunion in flip-flops this week? Perhaps, because in a perverse kinda way, the hallux valgus is an othopedic status symbol, a painful physical badge of heel-wearing honour that says il faut souffrir pour etre belle. So far, so committed to fashion, but unfortunately, poor Posh is a step behind the game. This season the chiropractor-approved mid heel is back, as seen at Marni, Louis Vuitton and Lanvin. A 'bunionectomy,' the surgery she reportedly plans to undergo to remove the unsightly condition, is so last season.

Carola Long

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