By Emre Gurkan Abay
MOSCOW (AA) - Turkey has everything it needs to be on the space power list and Russia is willing to cooperate for the first Turkish astronaut in space, the director general of the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) said on Wednesday.
The agency offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send a Turkish astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) last month during the joint visit of Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Salon.
Dmitry Rogozin spoke exclusively about cooperation between Turkey and Russia on defense and space, saying: "we have great respect for Turkey's interest in space and we would be pleased if Turkey defines Russia as a strategic partner in this area."
Rogozin said Turkey, a large, modern country protecting its interests in various regions of the world, with different alliances in the West and the East, was in a "natural process" where it "recognizes its interests in space.”
Moscow's offer to send a Turkish astronaut to space was also extremely natural, he said, adding: "We would like to see Turkish pilots and experts at the Cosmonaut Training Center. We can quickly train both the astronaut and assistants and make them go to the ISS in the coming years."
Russia will be pleased to offer its facilities to Turkish astronauts, said Rogozin.
The first Turkish astronaut might go to space in 2023 -- the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, he added.
"The cooperation between our countries is now extremely high. When the agreement on the S-400 air defense systems was signed, our cooperation reached a new level," Rogozin said adding that Russia was aware of how valuable Turkey is showing resistance to pressure against its purchase of the Russian air defense systems.
He added that Turkey’s fight against terrorism was vital as a country neighboring Syria and that Russian technical experts were ready to provide all solutions.
"This is not only a civil program but also provide an opportunity to see and hear everything. There are elements that constitute security threats to Turkey due to its challenging location," said Rogozin.
"Therefore, it would be very beneficial for our Turkish colleagues to cooperate with Russia in the development of a trajectory spacecraft team capable of making detailed and accurate predictions," he underlined.
Rogozin also said that a job created in the space industry automatically created nine jobs in other industries and that this process was a strong incentive to drive science, technology and industry forward as a whole.
On December 2018, Turkey’s official gazette published a presidential decree announcing the establishment of the country’s space agency aiming to prepare and carry out a national space program in line with the policies determined by the president of Turkey.
The ISS is stationed in low Earth orbit and serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory for scientists to conduct experiments in various fields.
It is also a staging base for possible future missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.
* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak