Türkiye to send first astronaut on maiden space mission

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 18, 2024, 17:10 Updated : January 22, 2024, 08:45
Courtesy of TUA
[Courtesy of TUA]

SEOUL -- Türkiye will send its first astronaut on the country's maiden space mission. The Turkish Space Agency announced that the spacecraft will launch from a facility in Florida, United States, to dock with the International Space Station orbiting the Earth.

The space mission by Türkiye was initiated in 2021 after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the national program. The Turkish Space Agency (TUA) selected the first Turkish astronaut from candidates based on their expertise in physics, medicine, engineering, astronomy, and sports.

According to the Turkish government, Col. Alper Gezeravci, a Turkish Air Force pilot, will board a spaceship developed by the U.S.-based Axiom Space, alongside other crew members: Spanish mission leader Michael Lopez-Alegria, Italian Air Force pilot Walter Villadei, and Marcus Wandt from Sweden. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 00:49 a.m. (Türkiye time, TRT) on January 19.

Türkiye's maiden space mission marks the first step towards the country's main space program goals, including sending a rover to the Moon's surface and developing an indigenous satellite. Türkiye's space program also aims to create a regional positioning and timing system.

"My name is not important," said Col. Gezeravci, Türkiye's first space traveler, in a social media post before embarking on the country's maiden space mission. He added, "What is important for the people is to remember that their country is determined enough to take a step into the future and to dream not only to the limits of the sky but to the depths of space."
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