|Turkmen explore the Moon|
Well, actually, they are already in the spce race, but news of that slipped by me. In 2004 Turmkenistan, then under the leadership of the late and lamented Turkmenbashi, launched a small "container" into space from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome. Inside the "container", which may or may not have been a shoe box, was a national flag and the Ruhnama, a book containing all the wisdom you ever need to know, which written by the Turkmenbashi.
Recently they've also signed an agreement with SpaceX, the US based commercial space service, to launch a satellite for Turkmenistan in the year 2014.
Turkmenistan is taking their space faring activities even further. At the end of May, President for Life Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, also known as the Arkadag (the Protector), has announced the formation of Turkmenistan's own space agency, although the details of it remain sketchy.
From the official press release:
According to international specialists, Turkmenistan has the most favourable astronomical and climatic conditions for carrying out astronomical observations. In particular, atmosphere transparency, favourable wind regime and illuminance allow conducting the space tracking activities for more than 2,000 hours a year.
The centuries-old history of our country knows many world-known Turkmen scientists, who have contributed significantly to development of astronomical science. They are Shemset Din Maryly (Shamset Din Mervezi), Al Khorezmi, Biruni, Omar Khayyam and other medieval scholars, who devoted many years of their life to astronomic observations.
It should be noted that before the first space satellite in the world was launched into earth orbit in the midst of XX century, scientists and specialists held the meetings on the issues related to the use of artificial space satellites in Turkmenistan.
Yup, nothing boosts confidence in a County's foray into space more than a solid foundation of medieval science.
President for Life Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, a.k.a. the Arkadag, claims he wants to develop Turkmenistan's first telecommunications satellite to further its Internet and television network. Considering the existing tight controls on the internet and the media, this is a strange claim to say the least.
At any rate, like any story out of Turkmenistan, it should be an interesting boondoggle to follow.