Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened a satellite test centre in capital Ankara on May 21, heralding Turkey’s “first step into space.”
Erdogan welcomed the new venture, run by defence contractor Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), as part of the company’s growth. It is now in the world’s top 100 defence companies.
"Today, TAI has already become one of the world's largest companies in the aviation field," he said. "Our aim is to join the list of the top 20 companies.”
The Spacecraft Assembly, Integration and Test Centre, located in Kazan, to the northwest of capital Ankara, will initially test the Gokturk-1 satellite, a civil and military observation satellite due to be launched in November.
"In 2002, this company, with $90 million in revenue and 2,000 workers, almost closed. But today, with revenue exceeding $1 billion and with 5,000 workers, it stands as the world's 80th largest company in its field," Erdogan added.
The centre, funded by the Defence Ministry and telecommunications firm Turksat, is a part of the Turkish efforts to break into the international space industry.
Earlier, Erdogan told executives and guests: "This facility is, for us, in a real sense a first step into space."
Vibration tests, acoustic tests and solar array deployment are among the tests to be conducted at the TAI-operated site.
“These kind of facilities are found in a few countries that have expertise in space studies,”Erdogan said. “We can say that, having this facility via TAI, Turkey ranks among these countries.”
The 3,800 square metre centre, sited near a military air base, will be capable of testing satellites up to 5 tonnes in weight.
The production of Turkey's first native satellite Turksat 6A - a Turkish communications satellite currently under construction - will be conducted at the centre.