Impact of Turkey’s Space Program on the Security Environment in CENTCOM’s AOR

By: CDR Azamat Murzabekov, Kazakhstan Armed Forces, CSAG CCJ5
13 July 2021


Over the last decade, Turkey has invested in its space ambitions, resulting in the strengthening of its space-related know-how and strengthening its position within the global arena. In 2011, RASAT, and 2012, Gokturk 2, were launched into orbit. The two Earth Observation (EO) satellites were designed and developed in Turkey. With the capacity to deliver far more in terms of the global satellite market, Turkey went on to establish its state-of-the-art space systems Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) center in the capital city of Ankara. The center has been operational since 2015 and supported Turkey’s mid-size satellite projects.

To add to its arsenal of space capabilities, Turkey has also built its own communications satellite, Turksat 6A, which was the culmination of local technology powerhouses Tubitak Space, Turkish Aerospace, Aselsan, and CTECH, as well as state-owned satellite operator Turksat. Turksat 6A is scheduled to be launched in 2022. The Turksat 6A marks the biggest space-related milestone in the country’s history, and was the bright backdrop for the establishment of the Turkish Space Agency in December of 2018. The Turkish Space Agency is tasked with the preparation and implementation of the National Space Program.

The state-owned rocket and missile manufacturer Roketsan announced it had successfully test-launched a sounding rocket into space in November 2019. On February 28, 2021, Turkey’s Industry and Technology Minister, Mustafa Varank, announced Delta V Space Technologies, is expected to develop authentic hybrid engine technology for the country’s space mission to the moon.  Rocket engines, engine sub-technologies and launch sub-structures are being developed in Turkey. For this to be achieved, the company is aiming at developing and converting competitive launch systems, stage propellant engines, and engines that can operate in space.

Mustafa Varank spoke on future development by said the company is planning to fire its rocket this summer. “We expect Delta V to develop engines that will launch our moon mission,” the minister said. Overall, it seems that establishing the Turkish Space Agency was a necessary step toward the future development of a ballistic missile program.

Key Points:

  • Turkey announced its National Space program for the next 10 years including sending Turkish citizens into space.
  • The Turkish space program is the largest and most ambitious project in modern Turkish history.
  • There is some possibility that the Turkish space program links to the ballistic missile program which seeks to increase the range of current missiles.
  • Any Turkish activities in building long range ballistic missiles could lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

Read the complete paper here.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.