Türkiye flies into space

Elon Musk owned Space Exploration Technologies, dubbed SpaceX, will launch Turkey’s first domestically built satellite on board a Falcon Heavy rocket into orbit, Turkish operator Turksat said on Tuesday (11JUN24). Last week, the space capsule was flown from Ankara to Florida on board an Antonov Airlines operated AN-124-100 freighter, with charter broker Proair managing the demanding mission.

The designers estimate the service life of Türksat 6A to be at least 15 years  –  courtesy: construction consortium

With the construction of Türksat 6A, Turkey joins the club of almost a dozen countries worldwide that have proven their technical ability to produce communication satellites on their own. Provided all goes well, the space capsule will be positioned at a geocentric position 35,786 km above earth. It will cover an area stretching from the British Isles in the west, Scandinavia in the north, Pakistan in the east and the northern part of Africa, including the Arabian Peninsula. It will significantly improve the supply of information in these regions, as it offers excellent voice quality and high data transfer rates.

Challenging mission
The operating time of Türksat 6A is estimated to be 15 years. It was constructed by a consortium headed be the Tübitak Space Technologies Research Institute in close cooperation with Turkish Aerospace Industries, Aselsan A.Ş. and CTech Bilisim Teknolojileri A.Ş.

The satellite was fixed in a special container and pulled by hydraulic winches through an external ramp into the big freighter aircraft, supported by cranes. The entire project took 39 hours, including the transcontinental flight. Asked about operational specifics, the Turkish office of broker Proair denied providing information. The responsible state authorities in Ankara have not yet published any specifics on this project like the costs of the charter or the exact launching date of the satellite, Proair’s Turkish office told CargoForwarder Global.

High flying ambitions
In a press meeting held at Ankara prior to the AN-124 freighter’s takeoff to Florida, Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır proudly announced further strengthening the national production program for low-orbit satellites. “We will support public, academic and private sector projects in this field. And we are determined to ensure that Türkiye is among the countries that have a say in this field.” In addition to this he announced that his government has decided to erect and establish a Space Technology Development Zone in Ankara. But Turkey’s space ambitions go much further than low orbit, where Turksat A6 will soon be positioned.

At the same meeting, Abdulkadir Uraloğlu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, said that the satellite will not only improve communication, but also perform important security tasks by monitoring Turkey’s territory and that of the neighboring areas. The project, which has cost USD 250 million to date, represents an important step for Turkey’s extraterrestrial ambitions, the politician emphasized.

Next stop – the moon?
His cabinet colleague, Mehmet Fatih Kacır, announced that Türkiye’s space ecosystem will further grow, based on two decades of technological advancements coupled with research centers that have been set up supported by industrial efforts. The official said that plans for developing launch rockets are on the government’s table as is spaceport based on international cooperation to be introduced by 2030. This is coupled with an ambitious national Moon Program whose centerpiece is a spacecraft with a propulsion system, developed, designed and produced by Turkish scientists and engineers. Until then, the country’s satellite ambitions will advance with the support of Musk’s Space X. “I think, we’ll start off with Falcon Heavy missions and do great work there and then potentially move on to the next vehicle,” SpaceX’s President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told Anadolu Agency.



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