Alper Gezeravci, Turkey’s first astronaut, received a hero’s welcome upon his return from a private three-week mission to the International Space Station. Children greeted him at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, and in return, he handed out Turkish flags he had taken with him into space.
Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacir said that the space mission was the first but would not be the last, indicating that Turkey has opened a new page in space science and technologies. The crew returned in a SpaceX capsule that parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast on Friday after conducting science experiments in space and chatting with schoolchildren and officials from their countries.
Turkey established its own space agency in 2018 with plans to land on the moon by 2026. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan closely followed Gezeravci’s mission, calling it a symbol of Turkey’s growth and strength in technology. The mission was Turkey’s third such journey organized by Houston-based Axiom Space with NASA and SpaceX, which cost the country roughly $55 million. The expedition is seen as a source of national pride and a highlight of technological advancement, especially in the field of aerospace and military development.