World stage presence possible with a say in space: Expert

World stage presence possible with a say in space: Expert

İpek Özbey – ANKARA
World stage presence possible with a say in space: Expert

Hüseyin Yıldırım, chairman of the newly founded Turkish Space Agency, has told daily Hürriyet that whoever does not have a say in space in 10 years will similarly not have a say in how the world functions.

“The control from space was always there. It was being done through TV, radio, internet publications and communication satellites. Earth observation satellites and meteorology and military intelligence satellites existed similarly, but now the period of an intervention is about to start, i.e. to intervene from a space vehicle to the world when necessary,” Yıldırım said in his first interview given to the press since he came to office.

“Especially, regarding the military operation issue, things started to go in a different dimension. Whoever is not in space in 10 years will not have a say in the world,” he said.

The Turkish Space Agency was formally established by a presidential decree on Dec. 12, 2018. Headquartered in the capital Ankara, the agency is subordinated to the Industry and Technology Ministry.

The agency is set to prepare strategic plans that include medium and long-term objectives, basic principles and approaches, objectives and priorities, performance measures, methods to be followed and resource allocation for aerospace science and technologies.

Its first board meeting will be held next week, with Yıldırım set to preside over it.

Asked what the agency’s first mission will be, Yıldırım said they will prepare a National Space Program, which is a 10-year roadmap. “That means, we will determine what steps will be taken in Turkey’s space-related works and when, with what kind of coordination and in what way. We are not starting from zero though. Previously, TÜBİTAK [Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey], Directorate General of Aeronautics and Space Technologies had started these works. We will revise them and give them their last shape with our own expertise,” said Yıldırım.

“A control network is being established [in the space] and if you are not there, then you are no more left with the chance of intervention. Of course, it should be said that the Turkish Space Agency is an organization that does not have any military activities, takes activities with civilian purposes and works in the peaceful usage of the space,” Yıldırım said, adding however that his reference to the military examples makes the issue “understandable.”

“Without having an aerial support, it is almost impossible to conduct a military operation. And today photos are taken, intelligence is gathered and operations are conducted through the unmanned aerial vehicles. The space is a place above the atmosphere where aviation activities take place, so if you are in space, everything that happens in the air stays underneath you. You see them [activities] from above, and on top of that, you are not seen. The military field is not my field, so I cannot get into too much detail, but it is important to be there; if that power is in the hands of just a few, that that would be a threat,” said Yıldırım.

Asked if Turkey has enough number qualified personnel in the area of space, Yıldırım said the country was behind others. “But you know that the world is now a small place. If the necessary conditions are fulfilled, specialists from every part of the world, Turkish nationals or not, could be found to come to Turkey and work,” he said.