February 27, 2024

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For the first time, Türkiye launched an astronaut into orbit.  Next stop: the moon

For the first time, Türkiye launched an astronaut into orbit. Next stop: the moon

Albert Gezeravci and other crew members were launched into space via a rocket from the International Space Station in Florida on January 18.Reuters photo

Gezeravci arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday after launching into space from the launch pad in Florida as the fourth member of the Axiom-3 mission crew. Axiom is an American company that organizes paid space flights for governments and companies, outside official channels such as the American space agency NASA and its European counterpart, the European Space Agency.

In addition to Gezeravci (44 years old), there were three other former soldiers on board the Crew Dragon capsule: Italian Walter Velade (49 years old), Swedish Markus Wand (43 years old), who flies on behalf of the European Space Agency ESA, and Swede Markus Wand (43 years old). year) flying on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). Spanish-American veteran Michael Lopez Alegría, 65, has been to space four times before.

Just before his departure, Gezeravci quoted the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk: ​​“The future lies in the sky.” Ataturk made this statement about a hundred years ago, long before humanity began exploring the universe. The Turkish President believed that “countries that cannot protect their airspace have no future.” Ataturk thought about the advantages of military and civil aviation.

Space nation

The current rulers in Ankara are looking further. Since 1993, the country has placed several communications satellites and artificial satellites in Earth orbit to monitor the Earth. The latest investigations serve both military and civilian purposes.

In 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan removed space activities from the Ministry of Infrastructure and transferred them to Turkey's independent space agency, TUA. As a pioneering nation in space, Turkey hopes to sell its technology to others.

The agency was tasked with sending an unmanned probe to the moon to make a “hard” landing in 2023, to celebrate Turkey’s centenary. The knowledge that Turkish engineers will gain from this will be used to achieve a soft landing in 2028, with the lunar rover that will conduct scientific research. Technical bumps have disrupted this timeline somewhat.

Just like the first astronauts in the United States and the first cosmonauts in Russia, Turkey chose a former pilot to be the first space traveler. Geziravci flew military aircraft such as the F-16 for fifteen years and spent seven years as a commanding officer for Turkish Airlines, the country's national airline.

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