Opportunities are in the skies...

The nation will be one of the world’s 10 countries that can build its own space satellites

If you soon hear about companies from Ankara, Istanbul and Bursa taking part in global space projects don’t be surprised. In the past few years, Turkey has quietly made important investments in aerospace. Many organizations and companies are cooperating in this field to produce new products. The sector, long abandoned to the French and the Japanese, is a creating an important Turkish ecosystem with new initiatives...

Turkey is one of the 30 countries in the world with satellites orbiting the earth. Turkey’s seventh communications satellite Türksat 4B was launched into space in 2015. Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Turkish engineers built the satellite. The contribution of Turkish engineers to the continuing satellite 5A project will increase...

Türksat 6A will become a turning point in Turkish history. Ten countries in the world are capable of producing their own satellites. Authorities plan to make the satellite that will be launched in 2020 100% locally manufactured. The pre-design stage of the satellite has been completed and work has begun on its critical design stage. High technology Turkish companies and government institutions are involved in the project and include Aselsan, TÜBİTAK Space Technology Research Institute, Turkish Aerospace Industry, and C Tech.

Turkey has paid an average $500 million for every one of its satellites launched into space to date. It has paid $29,000 per kg (2.2 pounds) for the satellites. Turkey can earn $100,000 per kg if it exports the Türksat 6A satellite, making it the most value-added product in Turkish history, according to TÜRKSAT’s General Manager Ensar Gül.

The Göktürks are in space...

Advances in Turkey aren’t being made solely communications satellites. Turkey has also become a member of select countries in the development of earth observation satellites. At the end of 2012, the nation’s first high resolution electro-optical Göktürk-2 satellite was launched into space. All of its software and 80% of its hardware were produced in Turkey.

Another observation satellite, Göktürk-1, is expected to be launched from the French Guyana at the end of 2016. The next Turkish observation satellite is expected to be completely locally designed and built.

In 2010, Turkey will have in operation seven satellites, of which three will be entirely manufactured locally. The new projects will increase the number of its satellites in orbit and increase their capacity. In telecommunications the satellites will have expanded Turkish television broadcast coverage to all of South America, eastern North America, all of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the western parts of Australia. Ninety-one percent of the world’s population will come under the coverage of Turkey’s communications satellites.

Along with the advances of satellites, groundwork development is also gaining strength. Turkey’s first and only comprehensive Space Systems Integration and Test Center opened in Ankara in 2015. Only a handful of countries in the world that dominate aerospace research have similar facilities. The center will have the capability to assemble several five-ton satellites at the same time, and carry out integration and test activities. Turkish defense contractor Roketsan, using local resources, is working on the mechanisms that will help launch the satellites into space.

It is sufficient to examine Turkey’s first specialized Space and Aeronautics Zone in Ankara to get an idea of the size of the established aerospace and aeronautics ecosystem that is growing. Of the many local and foreign companies that applied to operate in the zone, officials limited the number to 60. Economic planners say that the zone could employ as much as 15,000 people and have an annual turnover of $5 billion.

Turkey’s defense, aviation and aerospace industries are mainly based in the capital Ankara and the cities of central Anatolia. But some companies in the industrial cities of Bursa, Istanbul, Tekirdağ, Kocaeli, Kocaeli, Adapazarı, and Yalova in the northern Marmara region of Turkey have also invested in these fields...

This is a new development but it is important because Istanbul and its surroundings have huge industrial zones, two million blue collar workers, 80,000 industrial companies and more than 50 shipyards and ports, as well as more than 50 universities, technoparks, and hundreds of research and development centers.

“Turkey must become a big country,” stressed Hasan Büyükdede, head of the Istanbul branch of the Defense, Aviation and Aerospace Cluster Association, which was formed in 2015. Asked why Mr. Büyükdede had this to say: “The geography of our country, for centuries has directed the neighbors bordering it. With the history, genes of being a leader country that has directed the world for centuries, Turkey needs to be a grand country.”

Well what does becoming a great country mean?

Büyükdede says it means becoming one of the world’s top 10 economies. “It also means becoming a country that is self-sufficient, and having enough power of deterrence to be feared. It means a country that possesses its own defense industry, and has its own military and civilian manned and unmanned aircraft economy and a rocket and aerospace industry. It means meeting most of one’s own needs from its own resources and producing competitive exports. Thereby, it means becoming more influential in NATO and the United Nations.”

Ninety-one percent of the world’s population will come under coverage by Turkey’s communication satellites in 2020.

The Göktürk satellite doesn’t only carry out observations for the Turkish armed forces. It is being used for civilian activities such as control of forestland, tracking illegal construction, rapid assessment of damage after natural disasters, determination of agricultural boundaries and geographical data gathering, thus having greater favorable effects on the economy.

Turkey has named its observation satellites after the Göktürks, who founded the first Turkish state, which dominated Central Asia and China from AD 552 to 744. The Orkhon inscriptions, written in the first known alphabet of the Turks, the Orkhon alphabet, provides information on the period of the Göktürks (Sky Turks), or, according to other scholars, the Kök Turks (Earth or Root Turks). These are important because they gives historical and cultural insight into the Turkish people before they adopted Islam as their faith. In some ways, the inscriptions represent addresses given by the Kağans (leaders) on the states of affairs to their people. The inscriptions show Bumin Kağan as the founder and first leader of the Göktürk state. They also provide information on the experiences of the Kağans that came in his wake and their experiences. The idea of independence of the Turks is stressed. The inscriptions also warn that in times when knowledge and capable leadership is unavailable, the Turks become susceptible to the machinations of the foreign powers and that unity among them breaks down. But they also note that even in the most difficult times strong leaders can emerge out of the Turks to make them even stronger and reestablish their state. Dutch linguist Vilhelm Thomsen discovered the Orkhon Inscriptions, engraved on stone pillars on the plains of Mongolia, in 1889. With the help of Russian Turkologist Vasili Radlof, the inscriptions were deciphered.