On December 5, 2016, the Turkish Earth observation satellite Göktürk-1 has been launched in low earth orbit of 700 km. This optical satellite, which costed 260 million usd has a very high resolution (70 cm in panchromatic and 2.5 meters in color) and has a life expectancy of seven years. Major European aerospace industries (Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space) were enabled in its construction with the help of Turkish institutions such as the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Aselsan and TUBITAK. The Göktürk-1, followed Göktürk-2, launched in 2012, and constructed mainly in Turkey. This short analysis focuses on the implications this new satellite could have for Greece. Obviously the existence of two satellites increases the effectiveness of intelligence gathering from space as it will provide imagery with higher spatial and temporal resolution. Also a mobile ground receiving station will support theater operations. But the combination of large amounts of data with fewer image analysts, is an internationally well-known problem which does not always ensure operational advantage. Furthermore, the ‘cleansing’ inside the Turkish Air Force, which operates the Göktürk space program, after the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, have been significant. It is reasonable to expect that these might affect the operation of the program. This fact coupled with the damage suffered at the ground station of Turksat telecommunications satellite in Ankara during the coup attempt, indicates that there will be delays in the expected operation of the Turkish space program and largely negate the comparative advantage that Turkey could have in other circumstances.

Briefing Note 50/2016: The launch of Göktürk-1 and its implications for Greece (in Greek)

Author: Alexandros Kolovos