Thales Alenia Space (joint venture between Thales, 67%, and Leonardo, 33%) has signed a contract with TÜBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute (TÜBITAK UZAY) to provide a Communication Transponder for AYAP-1, Turkey’s first lunar mission.
The Lunar Research Program (AYAP) is an integral part of the National Space Program led by the Turkish Space Agency, with TÜBITAK UZAY in charge of the design, development, integration, test, launch and operations of the AYAP-1 spacecraft. With this project, Turkey aims to successfully carry out its first lunar mission and become one of the few countries that can conduct activities on the Moon with its own capabilities.
Thales Alenia Space will provide an S-Band TT&C (Tracking, Telemetry and Command) Transponder for the AYAP-1 spacecraft, a key unit to establish a communication link between the spacecraft and the ground station. The TT&C transponder is in charge of receiving the commands sent by the ground station to control the spacecraft, and sending back the telemetry with the vital information on the status of the spacecraft. The TT&C link is also instrumental to monitor the position of the spacecraft by measuring the distance to the ground station.
Stéphane Terranova, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain said: “At Thales Alenia Space we are honoured by the confidence of TÜBITAK UZAY to provide the Communication Transponder for AYAP-1 spacecraft, a key element for the success of Turkey’s first mission to the Moon. We’re excited to contribute in the renewed ambition of humanity to explore the Earth’s natural satellite.”
Lunar communications expertise
Thales Alenia Space site in Madrid (Spain) is a centre of excellence in space communications. With 35 years of experience in the design and production of satellite communication systems, payloads and equipment for all type of space missions – from Earth orbit to deep space, – it has participated in more than 650 satellites from space agencies and satellite operators worldwide and delivered 4,500 units. Building on their comprehensive heritage and expertise, Thales Alenia Space teams in Madrid are currently involved in 9 missions to the Moon providing lunar communications systems and equipment in S and X frequency bands for 4 lunar orbiters, 3 lunar landers, 1 lunar rover and the space station Lunar Gateway.
Among these missions are KARI’s Danuri orbiter (KPLO, Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter), in orbit since 2022, the first step in South Korea’s lunar exploration program; NASA’s VIPER rover (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), which will explore the South Pole of the Moon in search of water ice – a vital resource for establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon; the ESPRIT module of the Lunar Gateway (European System Providing Refuelling Infrastructure and Telecommunication), a contribution of the European Space Agency (ESA) to the Artemis program led by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor; and the lunar landers NOVA-C and Griffin in the frame of NASA’s CLPS program (Commercial Lunar Payload Services), to bring experiments to the surface of the Moon.