Ankara is planning development of a national satellite launch system capable of delivering military and civil spacecraft to orbit, according to Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz.
Following a Jan. 3 meeting of Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee, Yilmaz said the government will enter negotiations with Turkish weapons builder Roketsan Inc. for the early concept design phase of a new launch system “to ensure that military and civilian satellites can be sent into space,” Yilmaz said in a Jan. 3 statement.
During the meeting, attended by Yilmas and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the committee also approved the beginning of contract negotiations with Turkish Aerospace Industries for domestic development of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft dubbed Gokturk-3, with support from defense electronics manufacturer Aselsan and state research institute Tubitak.
With a space segment comprised of a single satellite equipped with SAR payload and a fixed main ground terminal and mobile backup ground station, Gokturk-3 is to provide high-resolution radar images from anywhere in the world in day/night, all-weather conditions, according to defense ministry requirements.
The pending contract negotiations are part of Ankara ’s broader effort to develop a national space program by the end of the decade that would include several civil and military telecom satellites and payloads in addition to dual-use surveillance spacecraft and the new launch system.
In December Turkey lofted its second domestically produced optical imaging satellite, Gokturk-2, a medium-resolution optical imager launched atop a Chinese Long March 2D rocket. Gokturk-2 incorporates a solar generation system developed in Germany and an optical instrument furnished by South Korea. The mission follows the August 2011 launch of a Turkish microsat equipped with an optical payload launched on a Dnepr rocket from Yasny Launch Base in Russia.
Over the next year or so Turkey plans to launch Gokturk-1, a larger and more powerful optical imaging spacecraft capable of sub-meter resolution that is similar to the French Pleiades Earth observation satellites built by EADS-Astrium. Gokturk-1 is currently under construction under an agreement with Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space that includes construction of a satellite assembly, integration and test facility in Turkey.