By Aysu Bicer
ANKARA (AA) - As political allies and economic partners, Turkey and Italy have worked together over the years in areas ranging from automotive, banking, and defense to agribusiness and textiles, but from now on space is set to be in the spotlight.
Space is an area both Turkey and Italy are paying more and more attention to, trying to get involved in the global 21st-century space race.
So far, the two countries’ partnership has been mostly built on other areas, but now there is an opportunity for them to strengthen longstanding mutual connections on the basis of space technology.
The space economy requires a self-sufficient ecosystem that includes capital, strategic partnerships, and evolving business models, according to Lokman Kuzu, head of the Space Technologies Research Institute at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, also called TUBITAK UZAY.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, he said the development of space technology is accelerating worldwide and that interesting partnerships, such as that between the U.S. space agency NASA and Brazil, have been forged in recent times.
"Turks and Italians have a great deal in common: shared history, similar characteristics, food," he said, adding that these commonalities make it easier for Turkey to work with Italy rather than China or Russia.
To date Turkey has carried out four relatively small space-related projects with Italy, he said, adding that Turkey is eager to collaborate with Italy on larger projects with bigger price tags, such as building satellites.
Italy is good at developing ground station software and it has been working with France, which is good at setting up satellites, he said.
- Talented Turkish space engineers
"The Turkish space sector isn’t as big as its rivals around the world, but Turkish space engineers are quite talented," Kuzu said, adding that if a space partnership is forged, Turkey has a lot to bring to the table.
Technology transfers are always mutual, he added, saying that when it comes to space, even the most belligerent countries can work with each another.
"In the modern world, we witnessed the establishment of interesting partnerships such as Russia and the U.S.," he said, adding that the private firm Space X transports goods while Russia's Soyuz, a series of spacecraft, is able to bring people to the International Space Station.
- 'Turkey good at building bridges'
Anilkumar Dave, head of the Innovation and Technology Unit at the Italian Space Agency (ASI), said Italy places great importance on collaborating with Turkey in doing research on the innovative space economy.
"Turkey is good at building bridges, and so is Italy, we know how to connect with others," he said, adding that research on space technology can serve as a bridge between the two countries.
Dave said exploring market forces, technology, and imagination is driving the new space age, adding that countries enhancing their space industry will need a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires building strategic partnerships.
The Space Team at Morgan Stanley, the multinational U.S. investment bank, estimates that the roughly $350 billion global space industry could surge to over $1 trillion by 2040.
The logistics of space is considered one of the largest commercial opportunities available today, with companies and governments alike paying to launch satellites into orbit.
Mining minerals, mining asteroids, and space mining will all be part of countries' economic policy plans, according to experts in the field.