Satellites and Other Space Instruments: Partnership Opportunities Through Turkey?s Space Strategy

Satellites There is a centuries-old relation between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, mo

Tarih: Issue 26 - January 2011

It is understandable therefore that this nation should be participating in activities related to space technology. Before space can be seen as a mere element of national prestige, space plays a vital role in the proper functioning of today?s modern society, and Turkey is clearly aware of this, being far ahead of many other nations on this subject. Navigation, telecommunications and change monitoring on a vast scale could not be dreamt of without the ways in which space is used today. Let us consider particularly the field of Earth Observation: if we consider that vast areas of the Amazon forest ? this once unexplored and unreachable green ocean ? that such areas can be imaged, mapped and 3D?d in a matter of hours, then space-based systems deserve consideration within national security systems of systems to perform border patrol, coastal surveillance, geospatial intelligence (GeoInt), damage assessment and precision farming. For some remote sensing technologies, however ? such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ? this is not where the story ends.

Since the launch of its space strategy in 2005, Turkey has become involved not only in co-development programmes in partnership with foreign companies, but it has also been pursuing its own space activities and developing its own technology. Telecommunication satellites have been procured, and shall be built in the future as part of national projects. Earth Observation satellites built by Turkey are at different stages of production: one is being co-developed with a foreign partner; another one is currently being manufactured in Turkey and by Turkey; a third one, also with technology ?made in Turkey? is ready tofly and waiting for a launch window-of-opportunity. This shows that Turkey deeply benefits from joint projects, enabling itself to develop its own capabilities in a time schedule which matches its sovereign objectives and mid-term economic ambitions.

After a number of post-WWII years in a mode of dependency from foreign technology which was virtually given to it, Turkey started to build its own defence industry. Today, with its own government-funded research and development organisation at a national level, Turkey is rapidly moving into space, yet based on solid grounds. Not only are optical and infra-red sensors being developed, but soon Turkey will be in a position where it will have space-qualified its own SAR sensors.

All that has just been summarized is enough reason to attract space industry representatives from all corners of the world to this country, Astrium being no exception. With its Space Transportation, Space Systems and Services businesses, Astrium is capable of designing a satellite, manufacturing it, assembling, integrating and testing it, launching it, setting up the ground segment infrastructure including ground stations (fixed or mobile), receiving, processing and value-adding the data received, thus providing Turkey with a partner with scalability that is second to none.

Astrium Satellite Systems is operational worldwide in the fields of telecommunications, Earth Observation, Navigation & Science, but is also in the business of subsystems, equipment and operations through Astrium Satellite Products. Earth Observation satellites on our Astrium Systems business are matched by the Geo-Information Services business. Thus, our scalability plays again a vital role here: Turkey can count on Astrium to achieve a high-degree of technological cooperation including technology transfer, while there is no need for the future satellite operator and end-user of radar-data to wait until the satellite is in orbit. Their needs can be fulfilled right now: supply of optical and radar data, data interpretation, analysis and value-adding is already available through Astrium GEO-Information Services, here and now. Our space-borne SAR systems have achieved levels of geometric accuracy which are second to none. A third system, with the same level of operational agility due to the electronic steering of its active phase-array antenna, will soon be launched.

Turkey has embarked on an exciting journey of space activities. This field can offer jobs to the local community, also through offset obligations if it feels it should partner with a foreign company. It will certainly provide Turkey with capabilities in the fields of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), efficient and secure telecommunications, and many other of the benefits which space systems can provide in order to enhance life on the ground. But like in any other field, it costs money, and here the figures may be naturally high if everything goes right, but painfully higher if anything goes wrong.

Turkey?s sovereign activities exist here and now, so a relatively compact schedule of its Earth Observation programmes, combined with efforts in mitigating the risks of mission failure should be evaluated vis-à-vis cost issues. We at Astrium wish to share the results of our successes with Turkey, and just as importantly, complement Turkish know-how with Astrium?s space heritage.