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REVEALED: Turkey plans Somalia spaceport for $ 1 billion lunar mission

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Turkey recently announced a space program, which aims to make a soft landing on the moon in 2028, will cost more than $ 1 billion and will require the construction of a rocket launch site in Somalia, Middle told Middle East Eye a Turkish source close to the government’s plan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed last week an ambitious schedule that has two distinct stages, with the aim of making contact with the moon during unmanned missions.

Ankara plans to make a hard landing on the moon with a locally produced hybrid rocket that would be launched into orbit in 2023, the centenary of the republics, thanks to international cooperation.

The second stage aims for a soft landing on the Moon in 2028 with Turkey’s own capabilities, which would involve a shuttle that would carry out scientific research on Earth’s natural satellite.

However, the government has so far avoided questions about the cost of the program and how it will run.

Budget requests

The Turkish opposition was quick to point out that the body authorized by the government for this task, the Turkish Space Agency (TUA), has an annual budget of just over $ 40 million. which is insufficient for such ambitious goals.

MEE’s Turkish source said TUA was only responsible for coordinating the entire program, so it was only natural that they did not have a larger budget.

“Having such a goal will help Turkey to finally focus on the mission which is space”

– Turkish source

The spending will be made through different government entities, such as large state defense industry companies, the source added. The Ministry of Defense itself will also make allocations.

Initial plans submitted to Erdogan a few years ago showed that the little-known branch of the Turkish presidency, Deltav (Space Technologies Incorporated Company), would be the recipient of the bulk of the spending, with a budget of over $ 600 million. .

Arif Karabeyoglu, President of Deltav, announced last year that the company had previously produced a rocket engine using liquid oxygen and paraffin, a capability critical to the space program.

The program, which in total is expected to cost the government at least $ 1.1 billion according to the MEE source, includes aggressive investment in space infrastructure.

Somali rocket

The same source said the government is planning to build a rocket launch site in Somalia, a key Turkish security partner since 2011, which also hosts Turkey’s largest training base in the world.

Somalia is no stranger to space enthusiasts: France also considered using the country to host a spaceport in the 1960s due to its proximity to the equator, making it more suitable for rocket launches.

Serdar Huseyin Yildirim, President of the Turkish Space Agency, declined to comment on Somalia in an interview with BBC Turkish on February 12, citing sensitive discussions with the host country, which he would not name.

However, MEE’s Turkish source said other alternatives such as Libya were not likely because Turkey had more influence in Somalia and was scientifically more supportive.

The government’s draft calculations suggest that establishing and maintaining the spaceport in Somalia would cost more than $ 350 million.

The government also aims to provide grants for Turkish doctoral students to go abroad to study astrophysics and will provide research and development funds to Turkish universities, totaling around $ 150 million.

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Yildirim has told media in repeated interviews that the space program will help Turkey advance its technology and make crucial investments in sectors that will make the country more competitive in the long run.

The government always needs to find an alien entity capable of launching the Turkish rocket into space in 2023 where, after reaching lower Earth orbit, the rocket would be directed towards the moon.

Yildirim said a turkish newspaper that the funding for the project could be funded by international donors, as there are many parties interested in space projects.

However, the MEE source said that since the program itself would require the development of missiles, foreign investment would be unlikely.

“The plans would most likely evolve over time, since the 2023 and 2028 targets are quite aggressive and there are many variables that could change,” the source added. “Yet having such a goal will help Turkey finally focus on the mission which is space.”

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