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Turkey’s First Domestic Satellite Launch Vehicle On The Way: Rocketsan Pioneering the Turkish Aerospace Industry

Image courtesy of Rocketsan.

Roketsan, one of Turkey’s leading company’s in the aerospace industry, have recently announced their plans going forward with the Turkish Satellite Launch System (SLS) project they signed with the Turkish government in 2013.

A Rocketsan press release that came out right before the Turkish International Defence Industry Fair held May 9-12, 2017, revealed the company’s plan to develop an independently funded satellite launch vehicle (SLV). The SLV will be Turkey’s first domestically produced rocket and it will be capable of launching low-Earth-orbiting satellites to an altitude of 500–700 km.

The SLV development is still in the conceptual design phase, but is planned to have a liquid propulsion system and falls in line with the SLS project. The SLS project involves a three-fold plan, the first step of which is to develop an SLV for the Turkish government.

Even though the SLV development is a fully private venture by Rocketsan, it will be Turkey’s own vehicle to use for government missions. That being said, the SLS project has much bigger and ambitious goals that require two additional phases. The next steps of the project will be the establishment of both a Satellite Launch Centre and Remote Earth Stations.

The goal of this project is to gain the satellite launch capability to support the sustainability of Turkish satellite programmes and to reach space independently. The most recent press release by Roketsan also states that the SLS project is on the right trajectory:

“Since the end of the preliminary conceptual design phase on the 31st of December 2014, Roketsan has been preparing for and conducting research to develop a SLV that has liquid propulsion systems on both engines.”

At the same time, Roketsan is looking at the bigger picture by working to be the company to bring Turkey the liquid propulsion technologies that are still considered to be risky to work with in the country. No doubt, this would also set Roketsan apart from the rest of the domestic industry players and create a new power-balance that may in fact create a monopoly within the Turkish aerospace sector.

Since 2007 Roketsan has been one of the most successful private actors in the Turkish government’s endeavors to reach space autonomously, just as they have thrived in other government projects and tenders in other sectors.

Considering that Turkey is centralising its space capabilities under the soon-to-be established Turkish Space Agency, the dynamics of the relationship between the two parties remain to be seen.

As the main agenda of the future Turkish Space Agency includes, “covering the need for the development, the integration and the operation of space platforms, vehicles, launch facilities, launch systems as well as their subsystems,” it should be expected that the current codependence between Roketsan and other Turkish aerospace, aviation, and defence companies will change.

The following is a promotional video of the Turkish SLS programme produced by Rocketsan:

By Adnan Tüccar, SpaceWatch Middle East Turkey correspondent.

Born in Cyprus, Adnan Tüccar completed his education as an interpreter before moving into the field of administration and campaign execution. Currently, he is a consultant at a coworking space in Berlin, Germany, as their Head of Marketing and Communications.

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