Exploring and learning new things have always been a passion for humankind. We like new challenges.
Sputnik widened our perspective in 1957. Shortly followed by Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, in 1961. Today, only 60 years after Gagarin’s historical achievement, we have spacecraft all around the Solar System. The exponential development speed of technology and science is breathtaking.
It all started between the USA and Soviet Russia as a space race so-called “Cold War”. Today several dozens of countries take roles in space missions and a dozen of them are capable of launching rockets into orbit or beyond. There is no doubt that the future lies in space. Many countries invest large funds into space and launching technologies due to independence and securing a portion of the space market. The Republic of Turkey (Turkey) is one of them.
Turkish Space Agency (Türkiye Uzay Ajansı, TUA) was established by a presidential decree in late 2018. This was exciting for the whole country. But unfortunately, we could not hear anything from the agency in the following two years. Apparently establishing a new space agency from scratch takes too long. But the wait was finally ended in February 2021 and TUA announced its very first space program for the next decade. Let’s have a look at the National Space Program of Turkey.
The Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 and 2023 will be the centenary. So, the government has a long achievement list to be done by 2023. Therefore, they announced very ambitious and exciting items in the space program. Due to the very limited time, one of the most challenging ones is the hard-landing on the Moon in 2023. One contractor will send TUA’s spacecraft to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). After this point, the spacecraft will fire its own engines to go to the Moon and hard-land on it. Also, TUA is aiming to send the first Turkish Astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023.
There are other ambitious plans for the next decade. TUA wants to use their own rockets to go to LEO earlier than 2028. In the meantime, they will establish a company to produce satellites and a spaceport (most likely to another country) to send spacecraft and cargo to the LEO or beyond. On the other hand, one of the most exciting plans is soft-landing on the Moon in 2028.
Outreach and education are at least as important as these ambitious plans. Without getting people’s support and educating new generations no efforts are sustainable. TUA and the government must have seen this, and they announced that they will prioritise and support astronomy outreach and space awareness activities in Turkey.
So, one more country jumps in this exciting competition. No one can be sure if Turkey will accomplish these plans in time. But there is one certain thing; competition makes things better. And with the new competitors like Turkey, the whole of humankind will win. Eventually, we will leave this planet behind and sail to new worlds.