The landmark mission marks a significant achievement for Türkiye in the realm of space exploration, with Gezeravcı contributing to advancements in scientific knowledge and international collaboration.
In a historic moment for Türkiye, Col. Alper Gezeravcı, the nation’s first space traveler, is set to conduct 13 scientific experiments during his two-week stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Originally scheduled for a Jan. 9 launch, the F-16 pilot will now lift off on the Ax3 mission from the state of Florida at 1:11 am local time on Thursday (GMT 10:11 a.m.), following a brief delay.
Gezeravcı is part of an international crew comprising colleagues from Spain, Italy and Sweden. The diverse team is anticipated to successfully dock with the ISS at 1:15 p.m. (GMT 10:15) on Friday.
Throughout the two-week mission in Earth’s orbit, Gezeravcı will be immersed in a busy schedule, undertaking 13 distinct scientific experiments on behalf of Turkish universities and scientific centers. This landmark mission marks a significant achievement for Türkiye in the realm of space exploration, with Gezeravcı contributing to advancements in scientific knowledge and international collaboration.
Gezeravcı’s first experiment was developed by the Marmara Research Center of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye (TUBITAK), based in northwestern Türkiye, to study the production of high-strength alloys resistant to high temperatures.
The second experiment developed by the Marmara Center, the gMETAL experiment, will investigate the effects of gravity on the creation of a homogeneous mixture between solid particles and a fluid medium under conditions without a chemical reaction.
An experiment developed by Türkiye’s Bogazici University with the Marmara Center seeks to carry out growth and endurance tests of microalgae species adapted to harsh earthly conditions under non-gravity conditions, to examine their metabolic changes, determine their carbon dioxide capture performance and oxygen production capabilities and develop a life support system.
The Extremophyte project, developed by Ege University in the Aegean city of Izmir, seeks to reveal the transcriptome by next-generation sequencing in plants grown in space and on earth exposed to salt stress and to compare some physiological and molecular responses of glycophytic and halophytic plants to salt stress in microgravity.
The Metabolom experiment from Ankara University in the Turkish capital aims to explore the negative effects of space conditions on human health. To curb these effects, it will examine the physiological and biochemical changes in gene expression and metabolism of astronauts taking part in space missions.
The Myeloid experiment developed by Ankara’s Hacettepe University aims to measure and evaluate the travel and space conditions and cosmic radiation damage that space mission participants are exposed to immunologically at the level of myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
The Message experiment, developed by Istanbul’s Üsküdar University using CRISPR gene engineering methods, seeks to identify genes whose function has not yet been discovered and to determine which immune cells will be directly affected by gravity during space missions.
With the Algalspace experiment, developed by Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University, the growth data of Antarctic and temperate microalgae in space will be compared, and a study on the use of polar algae in space will be carried out for the first time. In space, algae will be investigated for use in oxygen regeneration from carbon dioxide, additional food supply, water improvement and life support.
The CRISPR-Gem experiment, also from Yildiz University, seeks to investigate the effectiveness of CRISPR gene editing techniques of molecular biology, on plants in a microgravity environment to understand and improve the defense mechanisms of plants, which are the skeleton of bioregenerative life support systems meant to provide a sustainable system in long-term space missions, one of the chief hurdles for the future of humanity in space.
With the Pranet experiment prepared by Mus Science and Art Center students, the effect of propolis on bacteria in microgravity environments will be investigated.
The VocalCORD experiment conducted by Istanbul’s Halic University will try to detect disturbances in the physiology of the respiratory system from frequency changes in the voice with the support of smartwatch artificial intelligence and to investigate the effects of zero gravity on the human voice.
The Oxygen Saturation experiment from Istanbul’s Nişantaşı University seeks to identify the differences and disorders caused by low gravity by calculating the oxygen level of the air given with the support of artificial intelligence.
With the Miyoka experiment from the TUBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute, Gezeravcı will assemble lead-free components on an electronic card in the station, and later back on Earth subject them to detailed examination, testing the effects of microgravity on the lead-free soldering process.
Following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s introduction of the National Space Program in 2021, initiatives were launched to propel a Turkish citizen into space.
The Turkish Space Agency released astronaut applications in May 2022, selecting candidates based on expertise in engineering, physics, medicine, astronomy and sports.
In April of the previous year, Erdoğan revealed Gezeravcı as the first-ever Turkish space traveler during Teknofest, Türkiye’s premier technology event.
Established in 2018, the Turkish Space Agency unveiled its space program in 2019, outlining plans for a crewed mission to space.
During a recent announcement, Erdoğan emphasized the significance of the Ax3 mission, highlighting its role as both a scientific endeavor and a source of inspiration for children and young people.
Expressing optimism about the mission’s impact, Erdoğan remarked: “We envision this as a new beginning. Our commitment to this mission will persist, and we will continually aim for new heights.”