The assembly, integration and test activities of Turksat 6A satellite will be performed at the Turkish Aerospace Industries' Assembly, Integration and Test Center in Ankara. Credit: TAI

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Turksat on April 19 said construction of its first domestically produced satellite, Turksat 6A, has formally begun four months after the project was approved and that the satellite would not be in orbit before 2020.

In a statement to Turkey’s government-owned press service, Turksat Chief Executive Ensar Gul said the Turksat 6A program development budget remains 548 million Turkish lira, or $203 million at current exchange rates.

Turkish authorities have said developing national autonomy in telecommunications satellite construction — and in Earth observation satellites as well — is a question of strategic independence that, over time, should be a smart financial move as well.

Turkish officials have said Turksat 6A will make Turkey the 10th nation to have its own telecommunications satellite manufacturing capacity.

Turksat currently operates three satellites at the nation’s 42 degrees east slot, which is where Turksat 6A will be launched as well. A launch-service provider has not yet been selected.

When the Turksat 6A project was formally approved by the government in December 2013, the spacecraft was described as carrying 16 Ku-band transponders for commercial and civil telecommunications and two X-band transponders for military communications.

Anselan Electronic Industries of Turkey in April 2014 contracted with MDA Corp. of Canada to provide the X-band payload.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.