Türkiye's 1st space traveler set to tackle scientific experiments on board ISS

F-16 fighter pilot Col. Alper Gezeravci
Photo credit: Turkish Space Agency

Just hours from now, Türkiye's very first space traveler, Alper Gezeravci, is headed to the International Space Station to do more than a dozen scientific experiments over the course of his two-week stay while in Earth orbit, Anadolu Agency reports.

After a Jan. 9 launch date was delayed, the F-16 pilot is scheduled to blast off from the US state of Florida at 1.11 am local time on Thursday (GMT2211 Wednesday) on the Ax3 mission.

Col. Gezeravci is taking in the mission along with a group of Spanish, Italian, and Swedish colleagues.

The international crew is expected to dock with the International Space Station at 1.15 p.m. (GMT1015) on Friday.

During the two-week mission on the space station, Gezeravci will be very busy, as he tackles 13 different scientific experiments on behalf of universities and scientific centers in Türkiye.

Space voyage years in the making

After President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the National Space Program in 2021, efforts were launched to send a Turkish citizen into space.

The astronaut applications were published by the Turkish Space Agency in May 2022, with the selection of candidates based on their work and expertise in engineering, physics, medicine, astronomy, and sports.

Last April, Erdogan announced that Gezeravci would be the first-ever Turkish space traveler, unveiling his name at TEKNOFEST, Türkiye’s premier technology event.

The Turkish Space Agency was established in 2018 and announced its space program in 2019, as well as its intention to send a crewed mission into space.

This Tuesday, Erdogan also stressed the significance of the Ax3 mission, both as a scientific endeavor and as a source of inspiration for children and young people.

Erdogan voiced hope that the mission “would be a new beginning,” adding: “We will continue this mission. We will always aim higher.”

Currently reading