Space Program of Laos
------The Laosese Space Agency------
Level = 0 Development: Very Low
What has been going on in Laos?
What kind of space power do they have?
Does Laos have space weapons?
What are they planning over there?
Population: 6,000,000 / Language: Lao / GDP: $1900 / Cities: Vientaine
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Laos, one of the world's few remaining communist states, is one of east Asia's poorest countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 it has struggled to find its position within a changing political and economic landscape.
Communist forces overthrew the monarchy in 1975, heralding years of isolation. Laos began opening up to the world in the 1990s, but despite tentative reforms, it remains poor and dependent on international donations.
Thailand is the largest foreign investor in Laos. Whilst this support is badly needed, the dangers of exposing Laos's fragile economy to world trends are clear.
The Asian currency crisis of 1997 caused the national currency, the kip, to lose more than nine-tenths of its value against the US dollar.
Laos is a landlocked, mountainous country, widely covered by largely unspoilt tropical forest. Less than 5% of the land is suitable for subsistence agriculture, which nevertheless provides around 80% of employment.
The main crop is rice, which is grown on the fertile floodplain of the Mekong River. Vegetables, fruit, spices and cotton are also grown. Part of the region's heroin-producing "Golden Triangle", Laos has all but stamped out opium production.
Outside the capital, many people live without electricity or access to basic facilities. But Laos is banking on the anticipated returns from a billion-dollar dam scheme, intended to generate electricity for export to Thailand, to boost its economy and infrastructure.
Several small bomb blasts in recent years in and around the capital, Vientiane, have suggested that opposition to the ruling party may be growing. But any public dissent is dealt with harshly by the authorities.
The country's human rights record has come under scrutiny. Laos denies accusations of abuses by the military against the ethnic minority Hmong. Hmong groups have been fighting a low-level rebellion against the communist regime since 1975.
Full name: Lao People's Democratic Republic
President: Choummaly Sayasone
Choummaly Sayasone, the head of the ruling communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), was appointed by the National Assembly to succeed Khamtay Siphandon as president in June 2006.
He took over the party leadership from the octogenarian former president in March.
Laos's Space Infrastructure
Laos is troubled by the ongoing insurgency throughout the country against the occupation of it by American forces. Its space program is not suprisingly, nonexistent. Not only does it not have an agency, but also not much of an infrastructure in which one would arise. The University of Laos offers a degree in engineering but nothing specific to space related educational architecture, such as astrophysics, astronomy, astronautics or aeronautics. It focuses mostly on agriculture in this rural, mountainous country. The government has no ministry devoted to science of this type.
Laos has no history of being part of any organization dealing with space, nor has launch capability.
Laos lacks the industrial base, the educational base and the political foundation for a process like this to occur within it. It has no functioning university with an astrophysics or astronautics program, and marginal industry.
Laos operates no satellites and, not having an orbital presence, has no space power.
The government of Laos in Vientaine has no plans for attempting to further any ambition in space development or research, but may once things stabilize, if they ever do.
Timeline of Events in Laos
...From the Past to the Future
1893 - Laos becomes a French protectorate until 1945, when it is briefly occupied by the Japanese towards the end of World War II.
Monks gather outside That Luang, a religious landmark in Vientiane
1946 - French rule over Laos is resumed.
1950 - Laos is granted semi-autonomy as an associated state within the French Union.
1954 - Laos gains full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Civil war breaks out between royalists and the communist group, the Pathet Lao.
1960s - Laos subject to extensive aerial bombardment by the United States in an attempt to destroy North Vietnamese sanctuaries and to rupture the supply lines known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. It's estimated that more bombs were dropped on Laos than were used during the whole of World War II.
1973 - Vientiane ceasefire agreement divides Laos between the communists and the royalists.
1975 - The Pathet Lao - renamed the Lao People's Front - seizes power. King Savang Vatthana abdicates - he is later arrested and dies in captivity. The Lao People's Democratic Republic is proclaimed, with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) the only legal political party. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes prime minister. "Socialist transformation" of the economy is launched.
1979 - Food shortages and the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Thailand leads the government to modify its approach. Some private enterprise within agriculture is permitted.
1986 - Encouraged by the Gorbachev reforms in the Soviet Union, Laos introduces market-oriented reforms.
1989 - First elections held since 1975. All candidates have to be approved by the LPRP. Communists retain power.
1991 - Security and cooperation pact signed with Thailand. A new constitution is endorsed. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes president, Khamtay Siphandon becomes prime minister.
1992 - President Phomvihane dies. Siphandon becomes head of the LPRP.
1994 - "Friendship bridge" over the Mekong linking Laos and Thailand is opened.
1995 - US lifts its 20-year aid embargo.
1997 - Laos becomes a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The Asian financial crisis decimates the value of the Lao currency, the kip.
1998 - Khamtay Siphandon becomes president.
2000 - A series of bomb blasts hits the capital - the authorities blame anti-government groups based abroad. Celebrations of 25 years of communist rule take place in Vientiane in December.
2001 March - Khamtay re-elected president.
2001 April - International Monetary Fund approves a new three-year loan for Laos worth $40 million. IMF officials expect the loan to help strengthen macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty "through growth with equity".
2001 April - Parliament introduces death sentence for possession of more than 500 grammes of heroin.
2001 December - UN World Food Programme (WFP) launches three-year initative to feed 70,000 malnourished children in Laos.
Mekong irrigates fields, provides fish and transport
2003 June - Two European journalists and their American translator arrested after making contact with Hmong ethnic group. Pair found guilty of obstructing security forces and briefly jailed.
US-based Lao exile group, the Fact Finding Commission, says the Lao Citizens Movement for Democracy (LCMD) has started a revolution in 11 provinces. The government dismisses the claim.
The LCMD says it has killed three soldiers in clashes. The government denies the claim.
2004 November - As chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), Laos hosts the organisation's summit.
2005 April - World Bank approves loans for Nam Theun Two hydroelectric dam project. Dam is expected to produce electricity for export; critics are concerned about its environmental, social impact.
2005 November - Foundation stone of Nam Theun Two hydroelectric dam is laid.
2006 June - Choummaly Sayasone succeeds Khamtay Siphandone as president. The former vice president became leader of the ruling communists in March.
2006 December - More than 400 members of the Hmong ethnic group surrender to the authorities. They are among several groups of Hmong who have been living in the jungle as fugitives since 1975, when the pro-US government they supported was defeated by the communists.
TODAY AND INTO THE FUTURE