Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a Presidential decree on 12 December 2018 that formally establishes the Turkish Space Agency, along with its roles and missions.
The decree ends a long road for the efforts in creating the agency with the process disrupted by the political instability resulting from the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016, the resulting purges within the Turkish civil service and military of suspected coup supporters, and the ongoing economic crisis that still besets the country.
The Turkish Space Agency will report to the Ministry of Industry and Technology, but will coordinate and cooperate with other government ministries and agencies as required in the fulfillment of its mission. The agency has a mandate from President Erdogan to organize, coordinate, and manage all Turkish space activities, to include research and development, advocacy and education, and international cooperation and representation. The agency is also charged with ensuring all national and international laws applying to space are enforced and implemented.
The Turkish Space Agency will be headquartered in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara.
Significantly, though subject to budgets in these uncertain times, the Turkish space agency is empowered to help establish a national space industrial base and research and development ecosystem with the purpose of establishing Turkey as a regional space power. This remit includes the development of satellite technologies and associated infrastructure, a national launch capability, as well as to encourage young people to enter the space sector as a career, and create the necessary conditions to create a commercial space industry in Turkey.
One strategic purpose of the Turkish Space Agency is to, “reduce external dependence in space and aviation science and technologies, to increase the competitiveness in the international arena, to create scientific and technological infrastructure and to develop new technology.”
“We are forming the Turkish space agency in order to strengthen our aerospace industry, improve scientific infrastructure and human resources in the field of space technology and further boost our capacities and abilities,” a Turkish government spokesperson said.
The creation of the Turkish Space Agency is the result of a major governmental and industrial 100 day effort announced earlier this year in order to get a number of Turkish government and military projects stuck in bureaucratic logjams moving and underway.
One of the projects identified by the 100 day effort was the Micro Satellite Launch System (MUFS) that will be developed by Turkish defence contractor Rocketsan who will, in partnership with the Turkish Space Agency, transform Turkey into a space launching state, as well as a satellite manufacturing hub, according to a 5 November 2018 report in Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.
The project will involve the development and testing of the MUFS, which is designed to deliver micro satellites weighing 100 kilograms or less in to low-Earth orbit to an altitude of at least 400 kilometres. Roketsan will also build satellite testing and production facilities as well as the launch infrastructure and complex.