Turkey is preparing to fire a unique hybrid rocket to space by the end of summer, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank has said. The move, he added, will make a critical contribution to the country’s space roadmap and its future moon mission.
The rocket is developed and will be fired by Delta V, an Istanbul-based space technology firm that is working on an authentic hybrid engine technology.
"God willing, our Delta V company will fire the rocket that will exceed an altitude of 100 kilometers (62.5 miles), the start of outer space, at the end of the summer," Varank told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.
Varank late last month paid a visit to the company, during which he said they expect Delta V "to develop engines that will make the launching of our space and moon missions possible."
Using this hybrid technology will result in a "significant" commercial advantage because it produces the same thrust at a fraction of the cost of competitors, the minister noted.
The launch is expected to be made from the Black Sea coast, according to Varank, and will mark the most important stage so far as the country prepares for the moon mission in 2023.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month unveiled the country’s ambitious 10-year National Space Program that in addition to the mission, also includes sending Turkish astronauts on a scientific mission in space and developing internationally viable satellite systems.
Erdoğan said Turkey plans to establish "a first contact with the moon" in 2023 when the country marks the centennial of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
The tests on the hybrid rocket will start this month, Varank said.
As part of the 2023 mission, 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 in about three days, the minister said.
In the second stage in 2028, according to the roadmap, the country will launch its own rockets into space in the same way they did the probe.
Varank also said the country looks to set up a ground control station for the moon project and future missions.
Among others, the government is in talks with foreign partners to manufacture much larger missiles that can carry bigger payloads, Varank was cited as saying, without disclosing the names.
He emphasized that Turkey was looking for a partnership with a country, which he did not name, near the equator to jointly build a spaceport.
A report last month suggested Turkey could establish a spaceport in Somalia with a $350 million (TL 2.67 billion) investment.
The government was said to be planning to construct a rocket launch site in the African country, which already hosts Turkey’s largest military training base.
The Bloomberg report also said a separate port would be established in Turkey for "sensitive" launches, such as satellites for national security purposes.
Erdoğan in late January spoke to Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk on possible cooperation in space technologies with Turkish companies.
Earlier the same month, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket deployed Turkey’s new-generation communication satellite Türksat 5A into orbit from Florida, U.S.