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Turkey welcomes first astronaut after ISS mission

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Alper Gezeravcı, the first Turkish astronaut, returned to Turkey on Monday after completing a mission at the International Space Station (ISS), Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Gezeravcı, traveling aboard the presidential aircraft, landed in Ankara, where he was welcomed by Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır and officials along with an enthusiastic crowd.

During his 18-day stay on the ISS Gezeravcı carried out scientific experiments and represented Turkey’s first human spaceflight mission, a cornerstone of the country’s National Space Program.

In a ceremony at Esenboğa Airport, Gezeravcı presented President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with a Turkish flag and a plaque that accompanied him in space, commemorating “Turkey’s first human space mission.”

During a press conference with Minister Kacır, Gezeravcı reflected on his journey and the future of Turkey’s space exploration.

“This mission was the first but certainly not the last,” Kacır remarked, highlighting the ambition behind Turkey’s space endeavors.

The Dragon capsule, carrying Gezeravcı and the Axiom-3 mission team, made a successful splashdown off the coast of Florida on Friday, concluding the astronaut’s journey back to Earth.

Gezeravcı’s mission has not been without its critics, who have questioned the $55 million cost amidst Turkey’s economic challenges.

However, President Erdoğan has staunchly defended the mission as an integral part of Turkey’s National Space Program.

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