Turkey's First Manned Space Adventure

Astronaut Gezeravci Achieves Historic Milestone

Alper Gezeravci, Turkey’s First Astronaut, Photo: Collected

Alper Gezeravci, Turkey’s First Astronaut, Photo: Collected

Alper Gezeravci, Turkey’s first astronaut, achieved the National Space Program's goals and contributed to scientific literature, boosting the Turkish people’s interest in space. His mission, which began Jan. 19, will be completed Saturday with a planned return to Earth. Gezeravci conducted 13 scientific experiments aboard the International Space Station, raising awareness of  Turkey’s space journey.

The Turkish flag was raised on the Martyrs' Bridge on July 15 during a nationwide live broadcast. Gezeravci's journey began with the successful launch of the SpaceX Dragon capsule from Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida on Jan. 19. The Ax-3 crew was officially welcomed onboard the International Space Station (ISS) after 36 hours of travel.

During a live broadcast, he recited Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's famous quote: "The future is in the skies," as his first words. "As Türkiye, we are experiencing the joy of taking a step towards a first in our history. We are eager to contribute to the science and research conducted here," he added.

Immediately Started Experiments On ISS

As soon as Gezeravci arrived on the ISS as a low Earth orbit laboratory, he transferred experiment setups from the Dragon capsule to pre-experiment storage positions. Then he observed reactions of various microgravity experiments, ranging from cancer to immune cells and from algae to propolis. He successfully conducted 13 experiments prepared by the Turkish Space Agency (TUA) and TUBITAK Space Commission. Gezeravci’s experiments conducted in 14 days, had definitions of terms for easier understanding shared daily on TUA's social media accounts.

First Live Connection With Turkish President Erdogan

Gezeravci answered public questions, especially from young people, about space and explained scientific research through live connections with Earth. He held his first meeting in space with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gezeravci expressed pride in representing Türkiye on the ISS and expressed hope for Turkish youth. Responding to Erdogan's statement: "You have become an inspiration to our entire nation," Gezeravcı said: "As we step into Türkiye’s Century on the 100th anniversary of our republic, I am proud to represent my country and carry our flag on the ISS in this important and meaningful mission. For years, space has been considered a dream belonging to other nations, and by turning this dream into reality, you have given many Turkish youth, including myself, the gift of hope. You have allowed us to raise and strengthen our self-confidence."

‘TEKNOFEST Pose’ Shoot By Gezeravcı

Turkish Minister of Industry and Technology, Mehmet Fatih Kacir, requested Gezeravci strike the "TEKNOFEST pose" in space. Gezeravci shared the moment on social media, wishing every citizen of Türkiye to draw "inspiration" from his journey, creating "hope for the future." He met with students from various cities and answered journalists' questions through a live connection. He highlighted important qualities of an astronaut: composure, education, language skills, flight experience, physical and mental health, patience, perseverance and passion. Gezeravci emphasized the importance of school lessons for future astronauts of Türkiye.

Returning to Earth

Gezeravci and his team held a farewell ceremony at the ISS on Feb. 2, expressing gratitude for the journey."This was the starting point of a story, not the destination. May our journey ahead be auspicious for our entire nation," he said. The first planned return date was Feb. 3, however, the team's departure from the ISS was postponed three times due to poor weather conditions.

The Dragon capsule left the ISS on Wednesday, Feb. 7, carrying the crew. It is predicted to land in the water off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida, after 8.30 p.m. local time (1630GMT) Saturday.


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