The first home-grown communications satellite 6A satellite is encapsulate inside SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairings ahead of its planned launch on July 8, 2024. Image: SpaceX

Turkey is poised to launch its first home-grown communications satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Turkey’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Abdulkadir Uraloğlu called the Türksat 6A geostationary satellite “the symbol of our independence”.

While this won’t be the first Türksat spacecraft launched, it’s garnered such national pride because it is the first of its kind to be entirely built in Turkey. Uraloğlu said Turkey is just the 11th country capable of manufacturing its own communications satellites.

Liftoff of the mission from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station is set for 5:21 p.m. EDT (2120 UTC), weather permitting. Spaceflight Now will have live coverage of the launch beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

Launch conditions are less than ideal for the planned launch on Monday, July 8. On Sunday, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast only a 30 percent chance of favorable weather at liftoff for both the primary and backup dates.

Meteorologists are tracking a weak ridge that will bring afternoon thunderstorms into the area to start the week, which could produce winds of 40 miles per hour or greater.

Convective activity should taper off after sunset, but steering winds are expected to be weak, possibly extending any weather violations that occur. Conditions are expected to be similar for the backup day,” the weather report stated. “The Cumulus Cloud, both Anvil Cloud, and Surface Electric Fields are the most likely rules to violate on both the primary and backup days.”

A closeup of the Falcon 9 rocket supporting the launch of the Türksat 6A satellite. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, B1076 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 15th time. It previously launched SpaceX’s 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) mission to the International Space Station, the 16th batch of OneWeb satellites and eight Starlink flights among others.

A little more than 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1076 will land on the SpaceX droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ If successful, this will be the 86th landing on JRTI and the 328th booster landing to date.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Türksat 6A mission is set to launch during a four-hour window on July 8, 2024. Image: SpaceX

Expanding communications capabilities

About 70 minutes after liftoff, the Türksat 6A satellite will be released to its temporary orbit. It’s operational orbital position will be at the 42 East longitude position in a geocentric orbit about 35,786 km above the Earth’s surface.

“Our local and national communication satellite, which will have a power of 7.5 kilowatts, will have 20 transponders,” said Uraloğlu in a September 2023 press release. “Our TÜRKSAT 6A satellite will serve in Ku Band and will also provide service in new geography such as South-East Asia, which could not be covered by previous Türksat satellites.”

The 4,250 kg (9,400 lb.) satellite is designed to have a 15-year lifespan and will increase the reach of Turkey’s satellites “from 3.5 billion to 5 billion” people. It was manufactured by Turkish Aerospace at the Space Systems Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) Center with financial backing by both the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSB) and Türksat .

A group of engineers from TÜBITAK and TÜRKSAT pose in front of the Türksat 6A satellite in a clean room. Image: TÜRKSAT

The satellite is powered primarily by a pair of solar panel wings, which are 10 m (32.8 ft.) long and have a total area of about 37.7-square-meters (405.8-square-feet).

Once on orbit, the satellite will be managed by TÜBITAK (Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu), which translates to the Scientific and Technological Research Institution of Turkey. The agency is an advisor to Turkey’s Supreme Council for Science and Technology.

TÜBITAK said it put the satellite through a barrage of tests to verify its readiness for launch, including thermal vacuum testing, mechanic stress tests and separation demonstrations.the agency said the panels produce about 9.2 kW of power

“In this project, we tested a total of 84 pieces of domestic equipment of 24 different types, such as flight computer, power regulation and distribution units, interface control equipment, stargazers, sun sensor, reaction wheel, electric propulsion subsystem and communication equipment,” the agency said in a social media post, translated by Google. “Türksat 6A is ready for its mission in space!”

The satellite uses xenon gas-powered Hall-Effect Propulsion Motors (HALE) for in-orbit maneuvers. This is an electric propulsion system, which was developed by the TÜBİTAK UZAY (Uzay Teknolojileri Araştırma Enstitüsü, which translates to Space Technologies Research Institute).

“With the technologies we produce, we not only create satellites, we are now in a position to export our satellite subsystems, and we are on our way to becoming a world-class technology provider!” TÜBITAK wrote on social media, as translated by Google.

A closeup of the xenon gas-powered Hall-Effect Propulsion Motors (HALE) for in-orbit maneuvers. Image: TÜBİTAK Read More – Spaceflight Now