The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has unveiled an ambitious 10-year space programme, a first for the country that highlights Ankara’s plans to compete with other countries both on the world stage and beyond.
Speaking on Tuesday evening during a live televised event laced with special effects, the president said the first goal of the comprehensive programme was to make contact with the moon in 2023, the centennial of the founding of the Turkish republic.
Other missions include sending Turkish astronauts into space, building a Turkish spaceport, and developing sophisticated satellite and meteorology technology.“I hope that this roadmap, which will carry Turkey to the top league in the global space race, will come to life successfully,” the president said.“Our feet will be on Earth but our eyes will be in space. Our roots will be on Earth, our branches will be up in the sky.”
Under Erdoğan’s leadership, Turkey has sought to re-establish itself as a world power. The successful expansion of the Turkish space agency (TUA) would make the country one of just a handful worldwide capable of space exploration.Turkey has enjoyed rapid success in domestically produced drone and rocket technology over the last few years, which has made significant contributions to military campaigns in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Nagorno-Karabakh.The state-owned rocket and missile manufacturer Roketsan announced it had successfully test-launched a sounding rocket into space in November last year. In January, Erdoğan had a telephone call with Elon Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX, the private US space exploration company, about technological cooperation with Turkish companies.In cooperation with SpaceX, Ankara launched the next-generation Türksat 5A communications satellite, which will be used for both civilian and military purposes, into orbit from the US later the same month.