Turkmenistan Chooses American Rocket to Launch First Satellite
Turkmenistan has chosen a privately made US rocket to launch its first satellite, an American official has said.US ambassador to Turkmenistan Robert Patterson told a Turkmen-US business forum on November 12 that the telecoms satellite would travel aboard a Falcon 9 rocket made by California-based SpaceX in late 2014, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.French firm Thales Alenia Space is designing the satellite and training specialists from Turkmenistan’s National Space Agency, which was set up up in 2011, RIA Novosti said.The satellite is expected to provide broadcasting, Internet and telephone communication and video conferencing services. Internet and mobile communications are tightly controlled in the gas-rich authoritarian country. If the project is successful, Turkmenistan will be the second nation in Central Asia to build and launch its own satellite. Neighboring Kazakhstan launched a Russian-made KazSat satellite in 2006 but lost communications with it in 2008. In 2011, it launched the KazSat-2 satellite, designed by Russia and equipped by France.As RIA Novosti points out, though this is Turkmenistan’s first satellite, in 2005 it launched a copy of the former president’s soporific spiritual guide, the Rukhnama, into space aboard a Russian rocket.