Turkey plans to launch two more communication satellites by 2014, Turkey’s transportation minister has said. BBC Monitoring reports that Turkey signed a $571 million deal with Japanese technology firm Mitsubishi Electric MELCO to procure and launch Turksat 4A and Turksat 4B.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey also started efforts for production of another satellite, Turksat 5A, by Turkish engineers in a strategic cooperation with the Japanese firm. Currently, Turkey operates two communication satellites, Turksat 2A and Turksat 3A.
The deal comes just days after the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced plans to boost the power and capacity of their H-2A and H-2B rockets, making them capable of delivering large commercial satellites to geo-stationery orbit.
Last year, another Turkish satellite Turksat 1C was “retired” 14 years after it was launched into space. Yildirim said Turkey decided to launch new satellites due to rising demand and capacity in Turksat, Turkey’s satellite operator. Yildirim said new satellites would help increase Turkey’s satellite capacity three fold.
Yildirim added that the deal would also set the ground for a co-operation between JAXA and the Turkish Space Agency, which is expected to be established next year.
Turkey plans to place Turksat 4A into orbit by the last quarter of 2013. Turksat 4B will be launched in 2014. Turkey also has plans to launch its first intelligence satellite next year. The spy satellite was named “Gokturk” and it is now under construction by Turkish engineers.