Speaking at the Eastern Anatolia Career Expo held in the eastern province of Erzurum, Serdar Hüseyin Yıldırım announced Turkey’s space goals in his opening speech.
“We are running toward a time when it will be impossible to achieve big goals on earth if the country does not have a presence in the space,” he said. “One may say, ‘It’s ok not to go to space.’ But no, Turkey will not be content.”
Considering the countries’ space technologies across the globe, Turkey is in the second league, the top official said. “But we are working very hard to rise to the first league.”
When asked about the country’s mission to the moon announced in Feb 2021, Yıldırım called it “an important program” that they have been working on intensively.
“Let me make it clear. Some think that Turkey will send men to the moon. We don’t have such a space mission in a decade; we cannot do it.”
“We want to make a soft landing on the moon’s surface with an unmanned rover by 2029. This rover will get scientific data and send it to us,” Yıldırım underlined.
Noting that accomplishing this mission is easier said than done, Yıldırım stated officials at the agency are now working on the prototype of the rover that will weigh 2 tons.
“Once we finish the design, we will present it to the public,” he said.
Six hundred people have gone to the space as of November 2021, with 250 of them having visited or stayed to work at space stations.
Yıldırım pointed out that Turkey has come to the last stage of choosing its own astronaut.
“Our next target is to send a man to the space station,” Yıldırım noted. “We are willing to send a science person to the International Space Station to stay for a week or 10 days and make scientific tests.”
Turkey established the TUA in 2018 with the aim of joining a handful of countries with space programs.
On Feb. 9, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a 10-year National Space Program, saying Turkey is planning to establish “a first contact with the moon” in 2023 when the country marks the centennial of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.