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Turksat Selects Airbus for TURKSAT-5B, Report Says

Artist’s conception of Turksat-6A. Image courtesy of TAI.

Ahmet Arslan, the Turkish Minister for Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communication announced on October 6, 2017, that the Turkish government has selected Airbus Defence and Space to build two satellites for the Turksat-5B programme.

According to the space industry news website, Space Intel Report, the Turkish government and Airbus Defence and Space are close to signing a contract for the two geostationary satellites once a contract price has been agreed.

The selection of Airbus comes after a drawn out bidding process for the Turksat-5B project, with other bidders including Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO), who built the Turksat-4A and -4B geostationary communications satellites. It is thought that Thales Alenia Space, who have long been an industrial partner to Turksat, may also have put in a bid for the Turksat-5B work.

One aspect of the bidding process was Turkish demands that 25 per cent of the Turksat-5B work be done by Turkish satellite industry.

Turksat Chief Executive Officer, Cenk Sen, told an industry audience in September 2017 that the Turksat-5B programme will be a “warm-up exercise” for the indigenously-built Turksat-6A.

Turksat has an ambitious timeline for getting both Turksat-5B and Turksat-6A into geostationary orbit. The orbital slots for all three Ku-Band satellites expires by mid-2021, and Turksat aims to have all of the satellites in orbit by the end of 2020.

Both Turksat-5B and Turksat-6A are part of a larger, ambitious plan to have ten Turkish satellites in orbit by 2023, establish an indigenous space launch capability, and to create a world-class space industry that is both a regional satellite manufacturing and launching hub as well as part of a the global satellite component manufacturing supply chain.

The Turksat-5B announcement comes just as many analysts believe the long-awaited Turkish national space agency is about to be created, providing a much-needed policy, acquisition, and industrial focal point for Turkish space activities and ambitions.

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