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Turkey on the cusp of creating its own space agency

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu . Photograph courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara, Republic of Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Photograph courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara, Republic of Turkey.

Reports suggest that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is expected to announce the creation of the Turkish Space Agency within the next three months.

The Turkish Space Agency will be located in the town of Kazan near the capital Ankara, and will be a joint responsibility of the Turkish military’s General Staff, Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology.

It is also believed that the Agency will consist of five departments covering the entire range of Turkish space and aerospace activities, including one department to be run by the Turkish Armed Forces in order to look after their unique space interests.

A draft bill establishing the Turkish Space Agency is imminently awaiting approval from the Turkish Cabinet, before being passed on to the Parliament for debate and then a vote.

Turkish officials have studied the space agencies of the United States, Germany, France, and Japan, and based on those studies have come up with a Turkish solution to what many in Ankara believe is currently too organizationally complex with a large number of entities involved in Turkey’s space efforts. The space agency is being created to bring all of these efforts under leaner political and bureaucratic control, and it shall report directly to the Prime Minister’s office.

The Turkish military has established a “concept of using space for peaceful and defense purposes,” and has apparently produced a space roadmap. This space roadmap is said to include plans to develop ballistic missile early warning satellites, reconnaissance and surveillance satellites, and the creation of a military Space Group Command by 2023.

The Space Group Command will be created with the expressed intention of developing the Turkish military’s ability to utilize the space domain to the greatest extent possible.

Turkey’s space ambitions are to be able to design, build, and manufacture its own satellites to meet domestic military and civil needs, as well as to become a commercial hub in the Middle East, Black Sea, and Central Asian regions for the manufacture and launch of satellites, space science, and space exploration.

To this end, Turkish officials have stated that Türksat 6A, Turkey’s next-generation communications satellite, will be built in Turkey at its new Space Systems Integration and Test Center.

It is also understood that Turkey has ambitions to become a space-launch capable power, with the town of Datca on the southwest coast of Turkey or a location on the coast of Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, being considered as possible locations for a launch site.

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