The Central Asian space agency known to the English-speaking world as SpaceOrg announced its intention to put its first man in space on January 7th.  The collaborative venture between Turkestan,  Persia, the Moghul National Realm and the Russian Republic of Qazaqstan is possibly the newest space agency, and launched its first satellite at the beginning of the year.
The planned man-in-space mission announcement, including a press conference introducing the "first choice" Ğarçığar (cosmonaut) Talğat Sopu Bek-ulı, became mired in controversy by a joke attempted by Talğat Ğarçığar.
Talğat Ğarçığar tried to joke that the Mıtra space rocket would lift with it the soul of the late Pope in the Qavoşğar ("Explorer") capsule, "carrying him to Heaven", as he put it.  It did not go down as well as he intended.
Talğat Sopu Bek-ulı is well-known in the Turkestani pilot community as a joker, but his personal skill and the prestige of his family made him seem like a natural choice for the SpaceOrg's first cosmonaut.  The tastelessness of this particular joke may have cost him his historic space flight.
 
 
With both the Ilxan Sultan Qasım-ulı and the Keņesbaşı Nuraslan Näzbek-ulı unable to attend the funeral of the late Pope John XXIII, Turkestan was nonetheless unwilling to remain unrepresented at such a great and solemn event.

In one of her first outings abroad in such a role, the Ilxan's daughter Läylä Sultan-qızı headed the Turkestani delegation to Rome.  She and her delegation will remain in the city for both the funeral and the Conclave, after which most of the political delegation will return to Buxara.  Läylä and her husband Muşır Davud-ulı, however, will remain in Rome through the Christmas period.