Turkmenistan flies fairly under the radar, as far as destinations go, but soon it will fly into space.
SpaceX was awarded a contract with Thales Alenia Space to launch the country’s first satellite into orbit. This satellite will enable Turkemenistan to operate a National System of Satellite Communications. The Turkmenistan NSSC will go into “geostationary transfer orbit” at the end of 2014 or early 2015 and expand its telecommunications abilities.
SpaceX was founded by startup superhero Elon Musk (the ‘real-world Tony Stark of our age‘) who also founded PayPal, Tesla, and serves on the board of SolarCity. In 2012, SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule full of supplies, which became the first private unmanned spaceship in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station.
The long term goal is send humans into space, but SpaceX is starting out by sending other things, like cargo and satellites. The Turkmenistan NSSC will also travel aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, which has had three successful launches. The Falcon 9 is a “two stage liquid oxygen and rock grade kerosene powered launch vehicle.” SpaceX is also developing a new (and improved) breed of rocket called Merlin.
Space is a very exciting space right now (ha) and there have been number of developments serving to push space exploration forward, as well as “revolutionize access to space.” For the most part, governments were the only entities large enough to fuel space missions but Musk changed all that. Now organizations that don’t have the resources to build full space programs — like Turkmenistan — can turn to SpaceX for their galactic needs.