The United Arab Emirates recently reaped this when they sent a satellite around Mars, and the USA when a rover landed on the planet.
The Emirates linked the fiftieth anniversary of the nation’s founding with a space mission. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also wants to use space travel for an image coup. An unmanned Turkish probe is expected to hit the moon as early as 2023. Just in time for the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
Erdogan has now announced a ten-year space program that is extremely ambitious in terms of scope, technical challenges and schedule. It also costs enormous sums of money.
Spaceport in Somalia?
The spectrum ranges from satellites to its own navigation network, so as not to be dependent on GPS and Galileo any longer, and its own rockets to the spaceport.
The station could be built in Somalia in East Africa, insiders suspect. It would be an ideal location near the equator, which makes rocket launches easier because of the orbit physics. Even manned space travel is on Erdogan’s wish list.
The Turkish president wants to catapult his nation into the circle of the large or at least ambitious space nations with a ten-point program.
The United Arab Emirates have just caused a sensation from the Islamic world. Iran, which allegedly sent a monkey briefly into space as early as 2013, has space plans in a gray area for military projects.
Distraction from other government problems
The re are two main reasons for Erdogan’s space travel ambitions, explains Kristian Brakel. He is an analyst at the German Society for Foreign Policy and head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Istanbul.
The economy is in the process of recovering, but the resentment in the population about the effects of the corona pandemic, such as high unemployment figures and galloping inflation, is palpable.
Similar to the Space Force initiated by the former US President Donald Trump, “the project is intended to serve primarily as a distraction from the government’s overly earthly problems,” explains Brakel when asked.
The desire is to be at the top of what is considered modern, technically advanced.”
A moon landing would be proof that “Turkey has worked its way out of its decades-long position as an economic underdog”.
Erdogan and Elon Musk know each other personally
The Turkish space agency TUA was only founded in 2018. Critics of the plans point out that the agency only has an annual budget of $ 40 million – far too little for ambitions that cost billions.
After all, there are already several satellites that were built and launched with the participation of Turkey. It was not until January that Elon Musk missiles sent the “Türksat 5A” communications satellite, largely built by Airbus, and the small research satellite “Alselsat” built by the Turks themselves into space.
The US billionaire and Erdogan know each other personally from meetings and phone calls.
The Turks have to acquire further know-how before the big prestigious projects. With international help, a Turkish rocket will initially fly towards the moon in 2023 – with a hard impact from the satellite.
The ex-Soviet Union also started its first moon explorations with the crash mode.
In 2028, an unmanned flight to the moon, including a soft landing of the Turkish satellites, will then work without outside help. Even that is not a simple task, as the failed mission of Israel in 2019 showed, which wanted to land gently as the fourth nation.
Work on an unusual rocket engine
Industry insiders are listening carefully to Turkey’s plans for rocket propulsion systems. Missiles can be used for both peaceful and military purposes. Last year there were reports that Turkey was working on an unusual engine, a so-called hybrid drive, through the company Delta V Space Technologies.
The German rocket start-up HyImpulse is also using this technology. It is not known exactly where Turkey stands on the subject of rocket construction and propulsion. “We should get our national and domestic rockets to bring heavy payloads into orbit,” said Erdogan when presenting his space plans.
But the details may not be that important. For the Turkey expert Brakel, Erdogan’s main goal is to show prestige successes in 2023, Turkey’s anniversary year.
2023 should be, so to speak, “the milestone of his political success, the proof that he has taken on or even outshone the legacy of the republic’s founder Ataturk,” explains Brakel. For years there has been a strategy for the preparation, “a bigger, wider, better are its key points”.
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The se included the new Istanbul mega airport, the artificial Bosporus “Canal Istanbul” that has been planned for years and, above all, the most important goal of bringing Turkey into the top ten of the richest economies in the world. Turkey is currently in 18th place.
It is also about Turkey’s position in the competition for the role of the dominant regional power in the Middle East, analyzes expert Brakel. Iran occupies a special position, half competitor, half partner, depending on the topic.
The number one competitor on various fronts is the emiratis, explains Brakel: “After the successful space flight of the emirates, it is important for Ankara to follow suit.”