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World Erdogan wants to make Turkey a space power

19:53  10 february  2021
19:53  10 february  2021 Source:   lefigaro.fr

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Le président turc veut rivaliser avec les grandes puissances spatiales. © PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE / REUTERS The Turkish president wants to compete with the great space powers.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan aims for the Moon. Tuesday evening February 9, the Turkish president presented his list of 10 projects to develop the space industry of his country and lead Ankara " to the top of the world race for space ". " Our main objective, and the most important, [...] is to establish a first contact with the Moon for the 100th anniversary of our Republic ", from 2023, reports the official news agency Anadolu. Few details have leaked. It is about "of a national hybrid rocket which will be launched into orbit [...] via international cooperation" , specifies Reuters. “ In two years it's a bit short but it's doable. However, this will not have much scientific interest, reacts Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, researcher at the CNRS specializing in space policies. The moon has been mapped very well for a long time ”.

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The president thing also sets out a list of ambitious objectives, from meteorology to astronomical observation, through the development of satellites, the creation of a spaceport, eventually sending a Turkish citizen into space.

For the Turks, the subject is very divisive. "The pro-government media talk about it a lot, on a triumphant register," confides Jean-François Pérouse, researcher, co-author of the book 'Erdogan: new father of Turkey?'. Some believe that this is a sign of the power of the new Turkey, as well as its presence in Antarctica since 2017. Others are ironic, think that these are inappropriate expenses at a time when the population suffers from the pandemic, unemployment ... ", continues the former director of the French Institute of Anatolian studies.

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A new diplomatic map

The Turkish announcement took place the day the United Arab Emirates, big rivals, celebrated the launching of their probe around the planet Mars. The Turkish president is playing a new diplomatic card on this space. " The way to establish justice on Earth today is to exist strongly in the sky [...] So that all mankind and not just a part, can achieve peace ..." , proclaimed it Tuesday night. “ Turkey wants to be part of the great nations. It is a means of acquiring visibility on a regional and international scale. We are going back to good old fundamentals of space, as opposed to the specter of what people in the private sector like Elon Musk do, says Isabelle Sourbès-Verger. “Turkish diplomacy consists of playing on all fronts, and having the maximum number of cards in hand, facing each ally-competitor. Here is a new one ”, points out Jean-François Pérouse.

The Moon for 2023 is an important symbolic goal as the Chinese in bring samples back to Earth, and the United States want to send astronauts back there. It is also the date of the next general election. “ Many projects for 2023 are proving impractical. He has just added one, as if to create a diversion ”, analyzes Jean-François Pérouse.

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There remains a dilemma: the choice of an ally. Until today, Ankara worked with SpaceX to put its satellites into orbit. If Turkey wants to keep its promises and create its own space program with its launchers, it will need to benefit from a technology transfer with a partner country already established in the industry. China, United States, Russia, Japan, Europe or even India ... " By making his choice, Erdogan will seek to make a diplomatic coup. The most consistent would be to cooperate with the Russians, their technology is safe and cheaper. One thing is certain, that would make Westerners scream , ”anticipates Isabelle Sourbès-Verger. They could do it on their own too, but it would take at least 15 years of research, she continues. And pharaonic means ”.

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