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Turkey To Unveil National Space Programme Soon, Launch Several Satellites Over Next Two Years

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

In a major policy speech delivered on 16 January 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unveiled a range of large government infrastructure and technology projects for 2020 and beyond. The speech included the promised release of a national space programme and the launch of several communication satellites over the next two years, with one being built indigenously by Turkish aerospace companies.

The speech by President Erdoğan comes as the Turkish economy appears to be recovering from its recent problems. “By implementing strong policies in the face of the growing global uncertainties and speculative movements, we managed to restore the growth in the Turkish economy last year,” said President Erdoğan.

Speaking about Turkish satellite development, President Erdoğan said that Turkey will launch the Türksat 5A satellite in the third quarter of 2020 on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 satellite launch vehicle, while Türksat 5B is expected to be launched, again by SpaceX, sometime in 2021. Türksat AS began the Türksat 5A and 5B project in September 2011, but was delayed until Airbus Defence and Space were selected as the prime contractor in October 2017, with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) acting as the local industrial partner. Türksat-5A is built on the all-electric Airbus Defence and Space Eurostar-3000EOR bus and will weigh about 3500kg at launch and will be an all Ku-band payload.

Türksat 5B is a geostationary high-throughput communications satellite built for Türksat AS by Airbus Defence and Space, but is being partially assembled and integrated (approximately 25 percent of the build) in Turkey. Türksat-5B is also built on the all-electric Airbus Defence and Space Eurostar-3000EOR bus and will weigh about 4500 kg and will feature Ku- and Ka-band high-throughput (HTS) payloads offering satellite broadband speeds of up to 50 Gbps.

Türksat 6A is the first domestically built geostationary communication satellite in Turkey and is expected to be launched no later than the end of 2021. The Türksat 6A satellite is being developed by the Spacecraft Assembly, Integration and Test Centre in Ankara, and was ordered by Türksat AS in 2014 from TAI. Türksat-6A will feature 16 Ku-band transponders for commercial and civil communications and two X-band transponders for military communications. In April 2014 Anselan Electronic Industries, a Turkish defence electronics company, ordered the X-band payload for Türksat 6A from Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) Corporation. The assembly and integration of Türksat 6A is expected to be completed by December 2020, although no launch date has been provided.

“With this project, Turkey will become one of 10 countries in the world that produces its own telecommunication satellites,” President Erdoğan said about the Türksat 6A project.

President Erdoğan also said in his speech that his government would reveal its national space programme in 2020 now that the Turkish Space Agency (TSA) has been formally established.

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