Türkiye’s first astronaut Alper Gezeravci, who experienced changes in his appearance during his 18-day stay on the International Space Station, will have to readjust to life on Earth once he returns later Friday.
Exercise for two hours every day is mandatory to prevent muscle loss, and Col. Gezeravci, a Turkish Air Force pilot, made efforts to strictly follow this regiment during his time at the station.
Halit Mirahmetoglu, general manager of the Gokmen Space and Aviation Training Center, based in Bursa, Türkiye, spoke to Anadolu about the reasons for Gezeravci’s physical changes in space and the challenges awaiting him upon his return to Earth.
Mirahmetoglu said individuals who go to space may experience some discomfort, especially in the first few days.
“Because of the syndrome known as Space Motion Sickness, nearly 70% of astronauts suffer from headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and vomiting during the first 72 hours,” Mirahmetoglu said.
“Muscle mass can decrease by up to 20% in just two weeks due to microgravity,” he said.
Mirahmetoglu said vision loss due to excessive blood accumulation in the head area is also a common problem during flights lasting more than two weeks.
“Problems such as thickening of the veins and inflammation can also increase as the flight duration extends,” he warned.
“Astronauts can grow up to five centimeters taller due to increased distance between the spinal cords, which is caused by the lack of effects of gravity. This can lead to lower back pain,” Mirahmetoglu explained.
3-week quarantine no more
Problems such as balance or vision loss return to their previous state after about a year, he said.
“Quarantine was applied for up to 21 days after the return from Apollo program,” he said, referring to the pioneering US program to send a person to the Moon. “Nowadays, after a short period of checks and rest, astronauts can return to their daily lives within a few days,” he added.
A space capsule carrying Turkish, Spanish, Italian, and Swedish astronauts undocked from the International Space Station on Wednesday, freeing the ship to make its way back to Earth.
The return process is expected to take around 47 hours, concluding on Friday morning, Eastern Time in the US.
The mission launched on Jan. 19 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The Ax-3 space mission crew docked at the International Space Station the next day, Jan. 20.
During their over two-week stay on the station, Gezeravci and his three crewmates from Spain, Italy, and Sweden carried out over 30 scientific experiments, about half of them by Gezeravci himself.
The crew’s scheduled return has been postponed several times due to bad weather.