Oct 2, 2021
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Putin will send Erdogan to the moon

Photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin (center from right to left) during a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence

Photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin (center from right to left) during a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence (Photo: Vladimir Smirnov / TASS)

During recent negotiations Vladimir Putin proposed Recep Tayyip Erdogan large-scale cooperation in space. The Turkish leader told the press about this on board the plane, returning from Sochi. Roscosmos has something to think about.

According to Erdogan, the President of the Russian Federation proposed to work together on “building one platform on land and one at sea and launching rockets from them into space.” In addition, the launch of a Turkish cosmonaut was mentioned. A roadmap for cooperation between the two countries is expected to appear.

The details of Turkey’s 10-year space program became known at the beginning of the year, when Erdogan announced the upcoming launch of Turkish cosmonauts, the construction of his own rockets and a cosmodrome. For this, a space agency was created in 2018.

“The first rough moon landing will be with our national hybrid rocket, which will be launched into orbit at the end of 2023 with international cooperation. With the help of Allah, we will fly to the moon, ”Erdogan promised.

The Turkish president intended to implement the lunar expedition in two stages. The second – with the help of purely Turkish launch vehicles. Obviously, a partner is needed at the first stage. Russia can become such a partner. The expedition will be timed to coincide with the centenary of the formation of the Republic of Turkey.

How prosperous is Russia as a senior partner for Turkey in the space race? Does Moscow need this? What exactly can be cooperation between the two countries?

Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Andrei Ionin hopes that cooperation with Ankara will help revive Russia’s long-term space projects:

– Erdogan has very big ambitions. Space is still considered a pass to the elite technological and political club. The President of Turkey talks about empire, pan-Turkism, but he has no special resources for territorial expansion. However, there is a part of the high-tech industry, as evidenced, for example, by the Bayraktar drones.

Therefore, Erdogan’s ambitions are partially confirmed. But this is not enough for the implementation of a large-scale space program. If Turkey does it on its own, it will take decades to grow a school. Since the 1960s, no one has done this from scratch, with the exception of the leading countries in the space industry. Everyone relied on someone.

“SP”: – Who can become a Turkish partner?

– Turkey has one partner – Ukraine. Although, I think Erdogan understands everything about her. In Soviet times, Ukraine had very powerful competencies in rocketry and satellite systems. Open secret – Kiev once helped the DPRK create its own missile program. They keep making tanks for American missiles, doing something for Europe, trying to make their Cyclone-4 missile using “smelly components.”

But everything that Ukraine has to offer is too close to the military theme. Nobody wants to repeat the history of the DPRK. Russia remains. I think this is quite possible, given that cooperation in space brings partners together, but at the same time does not bind them with absolutely inseparable ties. After all, we are not allies with Turkey. We now openly admit this and do not demand from Ankara, for example, the recognition of Crimea. Space is suitable for our purposes.

We can attract to cooperation Kazakhstan, where there is a long-term “stuck” joint project “Baiterek” (launch complex at Baikonur – Auth.). There is no need to be afraid that Russia will let the Turkish goat into the Kazakhstani vegetable garden. After all, this is not a military base. Moreover, a solid rocket can be used there – 400 tons, and not toys – 50 tons. On such and on the moon something can be launched. This is not difficult when it comes to a light object.

“SP”: – Maybe Erdogan himself wants to fly to the moon? Will surpass Putin, who flew only on a fighter … What other projects are possible?

– It could be Sea Launch, which also stuck. Let me remind you that it was overtaken from the United States to the Far East. The project now belongs to the S7 group, but without Roskosmos it cannot revive this project. The rocket for Sea Launch was made jointly with Ukraine, and then they stopped. Only Roscosmos can make a new rocket. If Turkey enters by a third party, invests, then the site can be moved closer to it – in the Persian Gulf. The equator is not far there.

If we also include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, then the project can generally be made pan-Islamic. Investments can be found, the rocket can be loaded with a load, because the entire Muslim world will be interested. Even before S7, when Energia Corporation was unable to pull off Sea Launch alone and was looking for strategic investors, the option of Arab investors had already been considered. It is very promising to return to it.

“SP”: – Is it promising for Turkey, but for Russia?

– And Russia is profitable. The same missile will be used at Sea Launch and at Bayterek. As soon as this project becomes international, political, it will make Roscosmos work very quickly. It will no longer be possible to refer to sanctions, pandemic, sequestration. Erdogan and Arab sheikhs are not to be missed. Otherwise, they will complain to Putin. Since Roscosmos is essentially a monopoly, only international projects can force it to complete work on time and within budget. Everything is going very well and beautifully. We must use these initiatives of Erdogan.

Head of the Institute for Space Policy Ivan Moiseev notes that for Turkish money, Russia in the space sector can do almost everything:

“Of the major projects, we can prepare a Turkish cosmonaut and send him to the ISS. In Soviet times, cosmonauts from different friendly countries were trained and transported free of charge. For political reasons. Now the Turks will have to pay. We took a representative of the UAE into orbit. But he was not a tourist, but a business trip. His country paid for him. Naturally, both parties can then use the political effect as they need, but the payment will determine everything. A tourist costs about $ 50 million to fly to the ISS.

“SP”: – Of course, let them pay. Earned money on Russian tourists in Antalya … Maybe Erdogan himself wants to fly?

– The Turks are interested in sending a prepared person. They are going to develop further. It will not be a tourist, but a business trip with specific tasks.

We can also launch Turkish satellites into low-earth orbit. We have completed the launch. There is a standard range of loads. Another thing is what exactly to launch? The Turks have their own small vehicles, but if they want to launch something practical, then we will have to participate in the development. Unless, of course, the Turks want to buy a device in the West.

Much depends on Ankara’s strategy. If they want to develop their astronautics in the future, then it is more profitable for them to buy technology, exchange experience, and then, having learned, start developing their own. China used to work according to this scheme. And now, look, he is building his orbital station. For the Turks, judging by their statements, prestige is of great importance.

“SP”: – What platforms on land and at sea could Erdogan talk about?

– Turkey is at the center of civilization. It is inconvenient to launch missiles from its territory without affecting the interests of neighboring states. The Mediterranean Sea is small – the first step will jump it in two minutes. And then it’s Europe … The offshore platform solves all these problems, since it can be towed anywhere, even to the equator. You can offer them to buy our Sea Launch.

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