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Grounded astronaut. Stock photo from Pixabay

Erdogan reaches for the stars

Turkey's president Recep Erdogan is reaching for the stars. By 2023, when the centenary of Turkish Republic will be celebrated, he wants to send a Turkish probe to the moon - and a Turk into orbit. The ambitious plans are intended to make it clear to the world how progressive Turkey has become under Erdogan's leadership.

Published: February 11, 2021, 10:11 am

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    The Muslim NATO country wants to play in the really big league with Russia, the USA, China and India. Turkey established the Turkish Space Agency, or TUA, in 2018.

    But if Erdogan counts the number of components Turkey is able to manufacture itself for his ambitious space plans, the result will be a sobering one. Because the number would be exactly zero. Every component that is supposed to transport a Turkish flag to the moon and a Turkish citizen into space must be bought by Turkey in exchange for foreign currency. Turkish companies cannot produce any of these on their own. At best, licensed manufacture based on foreign specifications would be possible, but that would be expensive too.

    There is no such thing as a highly developed Turkish aerospace industry. Turks may be used to manufacturing technically demanding products, such as motor vehicles and especially buses, which are produced quite successfully for Toyota, MAN, Daimler, Ford, Fiat and Renault at several locations in Turkey. But these six foreign companies are really present in the country because they appreciate the low wage level in Turkey and the fact that they are not harassed by unions.

    There are four Turkish automobile manufacturers: Tofas, Karsan, Temsa and BMC. And it is no coincidence that many have never heard of these brands: It is because these companies do not have a single competitive car on the international market. However, Temsa and BMC are now producing very useful buses for local public transport, which they have designed based on foreign templates. But they will not take anyone to the moon.

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