Turkey’s first astronaut, Alper Gezeravci, returned to 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. The mission was seen as a source of national pride and a highlight of technological advancement, especially in the field of aerospace and military development.
The expedition cost Turkey roughly $55 million and was organized by Houston-based Axiom Space with NASA and SpaceX. The crew conducted science experiments in space and chatted with schoolchildren and officials from their countries before returning in a SpaceX capsule that parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast on Friday.
Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacir said that the space mission was just the beginning for Turkey, indicating that it had opened a new page in space science and technologies. In 2018, Turkey established its own space agency with plans to land on the moon by 2026. The mission is seen as a symbol of progress and technological advancement for Turkey.