Turkey Establishes National Space Agency

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree formally establishing his nation’s space agency.

“A space agency has been created in our country. This is a landmark step, we have achieved one more goal. The agency will put us at the forefront of space exploration and technology,” Erdogan said during a ceremony honoring scientists in Ankara.

“Our aim is to turn Turkey into a center of attraction for all scientists. Scientific research and project centers established in almost every part of Turkey are particular examples of these efforts,” he added.

Mustafa Varank, minister of Industry & Technology, said

Priority targets of the agency are to guide and coordinate the Turkish space sector, and manage international relations [concerning space] through a single desk,” he added, stating that the new agency will pave way for the establishment of a competitive indigenous industry.

Varank also recalled that Turkey has developed R&D activities in satellite technology since early 2000s and produced observation satellites BİLSAT, RASAT and GÖKTÜRK-2. Wide-scale satellite projects of TÜRKSAT 6A and İMECE followed them, he said.

A research center for optical systems will start operating under the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), Varank added.

It is not clear whether Turkey will attempt to deepen ties with the European Space Agency (ESA). In 2004, Turkey signed a five-year framework cooperation agreement with ESA, which was a first step toward cooperation between the two parties. The agreement was not renewed or expanded upon.