Within the scope of the Turkish Astronaut and Science Mission, the Falcon 9 rocket carrying Türkiye's first astronaut Alper Gezeravcı was successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Türkiye, united as one in national pride, followed the launch together in the famous squares of the country, and celebrated the successful start of this historical mission. This event was the most talked about topic on social media, with the hashtag "Be Proud Türkiye" that was trending all night long.
The center of excitement was Kızılay and Taksim
Planetariums were set up in Kızılay Square in Ankara and Taksim Square in Istanbul under the coordination of the Ministry of Industry and Technology, TÜBİTAK and TUA. The live broadcasts started at 22.30 on January 18, 2024. In Ankara, Göktuğ Kırca was joined by Dr. Sadık Murat Yüksel and Can Bayraktar from TUBITAK UZAY, who reported the developments moment by moment and shared their experiences. In Taksim, Istanbul, Şafak Tükle and his expert guests (Dr. Medeni Soysal and Dr. Burak Yağlıoğlu from TÜBİTAK UZAY) reflected the excitement on the screens.
"We are making a new beginning"
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan published a video message about the space journey of Alper Gezeravcı, Türkiye's first astronaut, who made history by taking part in the Ax-3 mission.
Erdoğan stated that a historical moment was witnessed and a new period has started.
President Erdoğan said that with Alper Gezeravcı's space journey, Türkiye has come closer to achieving one of the ten canonical goals of the National Space Initiative.
Erdoğan used the following expressions in his video message:
"My Dear Nation, we are witnessing a historic moment together. We are experiencing one of those times when our pride as a nation reaches its peak. We are stepping into the second century of our Republic, the Century of Türkiye, with the first manned space mission. As the heirs of a civilization that has made unique contributions to scientific history, we have started to contribute to a brand new chapter. We are sending a Turkish citizen to space for the first time in order to spark a new flame in the eyes of our youth and our children, whose dreams go beyond this world.
"This mission will be a source of inspiration"
Minister of Industry and Technology Mehmet Fatih Kacır stated that Türkiye will achieve another first with the National Space Initiative and said, "For the first time, a Turkish citizen is going to space to perform the Turkish Astronaut and Science Mission. In the future, we will also carry out an unmanned lunar mission with our indigenous spacecraft."
Stating that 13 scientific experiments prepared by Turkish scientists will be carried out in a microgravity environment within the scope of the mission, Kacır said: "Türkiye's First Manned Space Mission will be a source of inspiration for Turkish youth and children. This journey that will carry the horizons of our nation beyond the boundaries of the sky, will hopefully be the harbinger of many projects that we will realize under the leadership of our President with the National Technology Move and National Space Initiative in the future."
Minister Kacır noted the following: "I hope that our astronaut Alper Gezeravcı will successfully carry out his space mission, in which he will carry our flag bearing the crescent and the stars, and return safely to us. I wish our children and young brothers and sisters, who are following this exciting mission moment by moment, a bright future in which they will achieve much greater success. This pride is ours, this pride belongs to the Turkish nation. May our path be clear."
The moment of launch was celebrated with enthusiasm
The broadcast switched and established a connection to the Ground Station in the TÜBİTAK UZAY Institute, where Director Mehmet Nefes shared the most recent information with the audience. During the broadcast, members of the scientific teams that prepared the 13 experiments conveyed the details and mentioned the importance of these experiments. TUA President Yusuf Kıraç and TÜBİTAK President Prof. Dr. Hasan Mandal, who were part of the team that saw Alper Gezeravcı off to the USA, also spoke about the excitement there and the importance of the science mission. A connection was also established to Alper Gezeravcı's hometown Silifke to share the excitement there.
"Experience the Rightful Pride of Realizing Another First!"
"Experience the Rightful Pride of Realizing Another First, Türkiye!" said Mandal and added, "Our National Space Traveller is on his way to the International Space Station! With this journey, Alper Gezeravcı is carrying the excitement, future and heart of 85 million Turkish citizens into space with him! Be proud of your determination, goals and achievements Türkiye!"
Mandal also met with the Turkish Astronaut and Science Mission Project team before the launch. Emphasizing that our National Space Traveler Alper Gezeravcı will perform a total of 13 different experiments during the 14-day science mission, Mandal said: "The main motivation behind Türkiye’s first manned space mission is to carry out research that will further advance the boundaries of our scientific studies. I am delighted to come together with our Science Mission Team, which is behind the experiments that are to be carried out by Alper Gezeravcı, before the launch and share this excitement! I sincerely congratulate them for their work and the critical role they have played in this historic mission!"
In addition, the launch moment was watched on the video wall set up in Kızılay square. A large crowd gathered in the square and the crowd enthusiastically counted down in unison. The launch was celebrated with great enthusiasm both in the planetariums and in the squares. In addition, the launch moment and the broadcast were enthusiastically followed at Konya Science Center, Bursa GUHEM, Bilim Üsküdar, Antalya Science Center, Gaziantep Müzeyyen Erkul Science Center, Aksaray Science Center, Trabzon Özdemir Bayraktar Science Center and Kayseri Science Center.
"The Future is in the Skies"
After the successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon capsule is now in space with its 4 crew members.
The second phase has now begun for Alper Gezeravcı, the first Turkish astronaut to go into space, and his teammates. Astronauts will spend 14 days in space.
Alper Gezeravci gave his first message from space shortly after the launch, "I would like to start this moment with the brilliant words of our great ancestor, 'İstikbal Göklerdedir'".
The space journey will take about 1.5 days. If all goes well, the Dragon capsule will dock with the International Space Station at noon tomorrow. The crew will be welcomed by 7 astronauts onboard the space station.
Immediately following the launch, scientific experiments will commence. Throughout the 14-day mission, the astronauts will conduct numerous experiments ranging from the effects of space environment on human health to new generation metallic alloy formation.
Gezeravcı will conduct 13 scientific experiments onboard the ISS during the mission with an international cooperation that is coordinated in coordination with TÜBİTAK UZAY, Axiom Space and NASA.
From time to time, Alper Gezeravcı will address the world from the spaceport and share his experiences in space.
After the completion of the mission, the Ax-3 astronauts will leave the station together with the Dragon Capsule. After entering the atmosphere, the capsule will open its parachutes and land in the ocean off Orlando.
Also participating in the Ax-3 mission are mission leader Michael Lopez-Alegria representing the United States and Spain, Pilot Walter Villadei from the Italian Air Force and Marcus Wandt from Sweden on behalf of the European Space Agency.