Turkey Celebrates As First Astronaut Embarks on Historic Space Mission

Turkey Celebrates As First Astronaut Embarks on Historic Space Mission

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkey made space history as Alper Gezeravci led a team of astronauts on the country's first-ever manned space mission.

As the astronaut team experienced the highest G-velocity pressure during the first moments of the launch, Gezeravcı was seen turning a pen in his hand to test the change in gravity.

Preparations began at the center in Florida hours before the launch. After final checks, the team of four astronauts, including Alper Gezeravci, Michael Lopez-Alegria representing the United States and Spain, Walter Villadei from the Italian Air Force, and Marcus Wandt from Sweden, arrived by helicopter to board the Dragon spacecraft.

The astronauts were visibly excited before boarding the rocket. After technicians checked the astronauts' suits for leaks and communications, Gezeravcı and the team took their places on the rocket.

The eagerly awaited launch took place successfully at 12:49 am on Jan. 19. The Dragon spacecraft separated from its first rocket seven minutes and 24 seconds after the launch. At 12 minutes, the second rocket also separated from the vehicle. The astronaut team was able to remove their suits at the 32nd minute. Later, on the one hour and 24-minute mark, Alper Gezeravci and the crew had their first meal in space.

The team is expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) after a 36-hour journey where two Americans from NASA, one astronaut each from Japan and Denmark, and three Russian cosmonauts will greet the crew on the ISS. During his 14-day stay, Gezeravci will perform 13 different scientific experiments prepared by universities and research institutions.

The launch, which was broadcast live on television channels and live-streamed by SpaceX, was followed with excitement by millions of people all over Turkey. Meanwhile, Gezeravci's parents observed the historic moment at the center in Florida.

Astronauts also took symbolic objects representing their countries into space. While Gezeravcı took tokens belonging to the nomadic Yörük culture, the Swedish astronaut took a Nobel Prize medal and the Italian astronaut took pasta.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a video message and said the country is experiencing a pinnacle of collective pride and is witnessing a historic moment.

Erdogan emphasized the heroic service of the first Turkish astronaut in fulfilling one of the objectives outlined in the National Space Program.

Axiom, the company behind the launch, billed the trip as "the first all-European commercial astronaut mission."

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