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Mission of Türkiye’s premier space traveler to leave mark on society, says technology minister

Turkish Air Force pilot Col. Alper Gezeravci’s journey to space will leave a lasting and positive mark on society in Türkiye, the country’s industry and technology minister said Thursday.

“Not only Alper’s dreams, but also the dreams of Turkish children and youth will exceed the limits of the sky,” Mehmet Fatih Kacir told Anadolu speaking hours before Gezeravci’s launch from the US’ Kennedy Space Center.

Many countries have sent astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) Kacir noted, adding that Türkiye will be sending its first space traveler and astronaut to the orbiting laboratory as part of its National Space Program.

Gezeravci’s launch on the Ax3 mission will be conducted by private space exploration firm SpaceX in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with its Falcon 9 rocket at 4.49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and 12.49 a.m. Türkiye time (2149GMT) .

Liftoff was initially planned for Jan. 9 but was postponed twice to Jan. 17 and then to Jan. 18.

Four space travelers from Türkiye, Spain, Italy, and Sweden will conduct over 30 scientific experiments and demonstrations on the ISS as part of the Ax3 mission.

Yusuf Kirac, president of the Turkish Space Agency (TUA), said this was a day Türkiye has been waiting for for many years. “Alper will hopefully successfully complete 13 scientific studies to pave the way for our country’s future endeavors.

“Today is a milestone for us, but it will continue. Our Moon program, sending our own people with our own launch systems, is the main goal for us.”

Hasan Mandal, head of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye (TUBITAK), said this would be is a historic day for Türkiye, adding: “We are realizing one of the missions that will leave a mark on history in the Turkish Century.”