Government leaders from Turkmenistan are making their way to Central Florida. They’ll witness the launch of their nation’s first communications satellite tonight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SpaceX is preparing its Falcon 9 rocket launch and Thales Alenia Space, a French-Italian manufacturer, built the satellite for Turkmenistan. Once in orbit, the satellite will provide enhanced, secure telecommunications for the country. Turkmenistan is located in Central Asia, bordered by Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. But it comes as the nation faces harsh criticism back home for blocking independent sources of news and information. Just this past week, overseas media outlets reported that the Turkmen government banned all citizens from using satellite dishes.
For its part, SpaceX says it doesn’t have any direct contact with the government, rather they’ve been dealing with the satellite maker. The launch window opens up at 6:14 today.