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Turkish Space Agency chief says interested in cooperation with Russia

Ankara is planning to launch its own astronaut training program after 2023

ANKARA, February 9. /TASS/. Turkey is interested in space cooperation with Russia, head of the Turkish Space Agency Serdar Huseyin Yildirim told TASS Tuesday.

"Regardng Russia, yes, we already have good relations. I have spoken with Russian Ambassador [to Turkey Alexei Yerkhov], he visited me, and we are working on a draft agreement how we can proceed, how we can collaborate together, what we can do together. For sure, Russia is a very important space nation, we are well aware of that. We indeed want to cooperate," he underlined. According to Yildirim, Ankara is hoping to come to an agreement with Russia on the precise areas of cooperation "in a few months."

The head of the Turkish Space Agency is attending a special event in the presidential palace where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will present the national space program Tuesday.

The Turkish space chief also informed that he was going to hold a meeting with head of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, but it had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. "I hope in the near future we will meet and speak [about] all the details after our president will set the goals [for the Turkish agency]. We have very ambitious goals," Yildirim said.

In late May 2018, Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency cited its sources in the Turkish cabinet to report that Ankara is planning to launch its own astronaut training program after 2023 and is willing to earmark $6 billion to this end. The legislative basis was already laid down in autumn 2016. If implemented, this will be one of the largest and most ambitious projects in modern Turkey.

In September 2018, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin told Anadolu Agency that Turkey could join the joint project between Russia and Kazakhstan to use the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Rogozin also noted that Russia is ready to train a Turkish crew for the International Space Station flight in 2023 when Turkey will celebrate 100 years since its establishment.