The rocket engine will help the country's mission to land on the moon by 2023.
Two months after unveiling its 10-year-space programme, Turkey successfully test-fired a hybrid rocket engine on Sunday, making the country's initial goal of landing on the moon by 2023 seem more achievable.
A Turkish state-backed company called Delta V Space Technologies is at the forefront of developing rocket engines for advanced space applications. Sunday's test fire took place at the company’s facility in Istanbul.
Commenting on the issue, Turkey’s Industry and Technology Minister, Mustafa Varank said:
“In parallel, a vertical firing test of the thrust system of the hybrid sounding rocket (SORS), which will reach outer space, was also carried out.”
"Our spacecraft will be making contact with the moon. So, we're very proud to have performed the first firing of the engine here," the minister added.
Giving further details about the next stage, Varank told reporters that a sample of the rocket engine will be launched from northern Sinop province in May.
According to the general manager of Delta V Space Technologies, Arif Karabeyoglu, should all go well in May, Delta V will be carrying out launches to higher altitudes.
Calling the tests a very important step towards achieving Turkey’s moon mission, Karabeyoglu said: “Today we tested the rocket engine of the spacecraft. Step by step, we are going to the moon.”
“One was the static firing on the ground of the engine of the sounding rocket to be launched from Sinop. It is an engine that uses liquid oxygen and is the largest and best performing of its kind in the world. In addition, we have fired another engine that can be used in the moon mission. This uses a different oxidizer. Here, we can say that we succeeded by firing for 50 seconds,” he noted.
As per the country’s moon programme roadmap, the first launch into orbit will be made with international cooperation, after which the hybrid engine manufactured by Delta V will take the Turkish spacecraft to the moon’s surface.
Afterwards, in the second stage, which is planned to take place in 2028, Turkey will launch its own rockets into space in the same way they did the probe. According to minister Varank, Turkey has been planning to send an unmanned spacecraft to make the hard landing.
The rockets of the Delta V Space Technologies are expected to reach more than 100 kilometres (62.5 miles) which means the start of outer space, the minister also added.
“Using hybrid technology will result in a “significant” commercial advantage because it produces the same thrust at a fraction of the cost of competitors.”
How it all started and what is next: Turkey’s space mission project in brief
Unveiling Turkey’s 10-year space programme in February, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during the live televised event announced, that the first goal of the comprehensive programme was to make contact with the moon in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish republic.
Other missions include sending Turkish astronauts into space, building a Turkish spaceport, and developing sophisticated satellite and meteorology technology.
As a first step, Turkey will be seeking a rough landing on the moon thanks to the national and authentic hybrid rocket that will be launched into orbit at the end of 2023 through international cooperation.
Then, the second stage is expected to take place in 2028, when Turkey launches its rockets into space in the same way they did the probe.
Last February, the head of the Turkey Space Agency (TUA), Huseyin Yildirim, told Anadolu Agency that for the country to achieve its space mission, it must aim to have more than 10,000 specialists in the next ten years.
Emphasising the country’s need for qualified personnel, Yildirim said that Turkey also hopes to benefit from its native scientists that live around the world.
Talking about the agency’s budget, the head of TUA stated that the Turkish government allocated $5.46 million, but with the additional funds provided by several other institutions within the country, the total reaches approximately $50 million annually.
“Projects will have separate budgets apart from the agency’s budget. We are talking about a 10-year program, not a budget to be allocated at once. It will be paid gradually on certain calendars,” he added.
In February, Yildirim also stated that the construction of the national hybrid rocket by Delta V Space Technologies Inc will pave the way for Turkey’s National Space Programme’s first aim, the ‘reaching the moon’ mission.