Türkiye announced it had successfully tested its first domestically developed probe rocket, marking the biggest advancement in the nation’s ambitious space endeavors.
Developed by the pioneering defense and technology contractor, Roketsan, the rocket was test-fired from Iğneada in Türkiye’s northwestern Kırklareli province, the country’s top defense body wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The launch and the advanced engineering behind the probe rocket reflect Türkiye’s dedication to space exploration, said the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).
“Our probe rocket, which was developed with our advanced engineering technologies as part of our country’s efforts to reach space, was successfully launched from Iğneada,” it noted.
The launch aligns with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambitious 10-year space roadmap he announced in February 2021. It includes missions to the moon, sending Turkish astronauts into space and developing internationally viable satellite systems.
Erdoğan in April this year presented the first Turkish space travelers who he said are planned to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in the last quarter of this year for a 14-day research mission, in what will mark the first for Türkiye.
The government signed a deal with Axiom Space, a U.S. space infrastructure developer, for the training and flight service of the astronauts. Candidates will have to complete Axiom’s monthslong training curriculum to adapt to living in space.
The 10-year program is seen as part of Erdoğan’s vision for placing Türkiye in an expanded regional and global role. It also envisages a mission to the moon soon. The first stage of the mission will be through international cooperation, while the second stage will utilize Turkish rockets.
As part of the program, Türkiye plans to work with other countries on building a spaceport and to create a global brand in satellite technology.
The country established the Turkish Space Agency, or TUA, in 2018, with the aim of joining a handful of other countries with space programs.
Erdoğan has frequently spoken with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and discussed cooperation on space technologies with Turkish companies.
Before the launch on Saturday, Türkiye had issued an international maritime safety advisory, or Navtex, covering an 850-kilometer area between the provinces of Edirne and Giresun on the Black Sea.
“This achievement, summarized in a few sentences, is the news of the seal of the Century of Türkiye to be struck on space technologies,” said Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır.
“(It is) the harbinger of many good news that are to follow,” Kacır wrote on X.
SSB President Haluk Görgün said the test marked another important milestone in domestic rocket technologies.
“We have crossed another very important threshold in our domestic and national rocket technologies. Thanks to our rocket technologies, which we have successfully launched, our space studies will gain great momentum,” said Görgün.
“We are determined to carry our high technologies further into space, the dominant hill of humanity, and to support our companies to achieve their goals.”
Türkiye has been working on the development of the crewless spacecraft that will be used in its moon mission and which it plans to have ready as soon as the end of 2023.
The engine of the spacecraft is being manufactured within the country. Works as part of the space program have already seen Türkiye successfully complete the flight tests of a hybrid probe rocket system that will be used in the crewless spacecraft.
The country in 2021 also performed a firing test of the hybrid rocket engine and a vertical firing test of the thrust system.
Turkey’s mission to the moon will be completed in two stages, according to the program.
The first launch into orbit will be made with international cooperation, after which the domestically developed hybrid engine is planned to take the Turkish spacecraft to the moon’s surface. In the second stage in 2028, the country will launch its own rockets into space in the same way it did the probe.
Meanwhile, Türkiye currently boasts nine active satellites in space, most of which are communication satellites. The overall figure is expected to soon reach 10 as Türkiye plans to soon launch its domestically developed Türksat 6A satellite.
It will place Türkiye among the 10 countries capable of producing indigenous satellites.