Turkey launched the first Turkish astronaut to the International Space Station, entering a new phase in its promising space program.
The “Axiom 3” mission launched at 00:49 yesterday, Thursday, January 18, from the launch complex at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the third private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.
The mission crew consists of four members: Turkish military pilot Albert Gezer Oci, former NASA astronaut Lopez Alegría, Italian military pilot Walter Velade, and Swedish European Space Agency astronaut Markus Wandt.
The crew will travel to the orbital site aboard the SpaceX Dragon space capsule, carried by the same company's Falcon 9 rocket, after the mission was postponed for one day from its scheduled date, with the aim of allowing the teams to complete the final pre-flight checks and analyze the data on the spacecraft. Rocket board.
With the launch of this journey, Turkey achieves the first step in the “Turkish National Space Program”, which is the tenth goal that… Announce it Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2021 by sending a Turkish citizen into space.
The spacecraft's journey takes a day and a half before it docks with the International Space Station at an altitude of about 400 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
The 13th will be conducted by Turkish astronaut Alper Güzer Oji an experience Various scientific studies on the International Space Station over a period of 14 days in the fields of medicine, genetics, immune cells, and astronomy.
In May 2022, Turkey announced its desire to select two Turkish citizens for a scientific space mission, and the Turkish Space Agency published an announcement on its website about this, to which about 36 thousand people aspired to obtain this opportunity.
Among the thousands of applications, the Turkish Space Agency summoned 30 candidates to the capital, Ankara, where they were tested in the fields of engineering, physics, medicine and astronomy, in addition to sports, before undergoing medical and psychological tests in preparation for participation in this space mission.
Erdogan announced the selection of Albert Gezer Oji as the main astronaut for the mission, in a speech during the “Technofest” aviation and space technology festival in Istanbul, which began on April 29, 2023, and Tuva Cihangir Atasifer was chosen as a backup astronaut for the mission.
Falcon 9…the first rocket that accepts reuse
Minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 rocket separated from the spacecraft and successfully returned to the launch base. The missile features Falcon 9 Designed and manufactured by the American “SpaceX”, it is the first reusable rocket in the world.
The missile is 70 meters long, 3.7 meters in diameter, and weighs about 550 tons. It can carry 22,000 kilograms of payload in low Earth orbit, 8,300 kilograms in geostationary orbit, and 4,000 kilograms to Mars.
The rocket consists of two stages to reliably and safely transport people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond, and the possibility of reusability allows SpaceX to take advantage of the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn reduces the cost of access to space.
The Falcon 9 first stage includes nine Merlin engines and aluminum and lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocket kerosene designed for reuse, and are used to slow the rocket during landing before returning to Earth.
The interstage is a composite structure that connects the first and second stages, and includes pneumatic thrusters that allow the first and second stages to separate during flight.
The second stage of the missile is powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine that transports the space capsule to the desired orbit.
The Dragon capsule can carry up to 7 people to and from Earth orbit in the pressurized section of the spacecraft. The capsule can also carry large quantities of tools and food to and from the International Space Station in the spacecraft's non-pressurized box, which can also accommodate secondary payloads.
Dragon is the first private spacecraft to transport humans to the space station, and its diameter is 4 meters and its length is 8.1 meters.
An ambitious space program aimed at the moon
Türkiye seeks to join the few countries that have found a foothold on the moon.
Since the cessation of American and Soviet space missions to the moon in the 1970s, China has been able to…India Just from successfully landing on the moon.
The Turkish space program aims to achieve 10 goals, the first of which is achieving the first contact with the moon in the centenary of the Turkish Republic in 2023 within the Lunar Research Program (AYAP) project. However, this ambitious goal is still under achievement, and it is Expected Achieved in 2026.
The lunar mission includes sending a spacecraft developed with national resources to the near orbit of the moon, and collecting data before making a hard landing on the lunar surface within the first stage.
The second phase of the project includes a soft landing of a rover on the surface of the moon equipped with payloads for use in various measurements, research and scientific activities, which will contribute to increasing Turkey's efficiency in space science and raising the level of international cooperation through the data that will be collected from the spacecraft.
The Turkish space program also aims to develop Turkey's positioning system, establish its own spaceport, and increase investment in space meteorological technologies, astronomical observation, and observing celestial bodies from Earth.
Turkish satellite programme
Turkey's first attempts to find a foothold in space began three decades ago with the test launch of the first Turkish communications satellite, “Turksat A1”, on January 24, 1994. It was not successful due to a technical problem that led to it falling into the ocean minutes after its launch.
But it only took a few months to announce its success in launching the Turksat B1 satellite, in August of the same year, which was the first satellite to be successfully launched in the Turkish Turksat series of communications satellites.
The eighth and last communications satellite owned by Türkiye so far was launched, which is “Turksat 5B“Into orbit on December 19, 2021. This satellite, produced by the French company Airbus, is the most powerful Turkish satellite to date. It will be able to transmit data at a total speed of more than 55 gigabytes, and its mission is expected to continue for more than 35 years.
The Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Corporation “TUBITAK”, affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Technology, intends to launch the first locally-made communications satellite.Turksat A6“Mid 2024.
In addition to communications satellites, Turkey has a group of Earth observation satellites that fly in relatively low orbits, and are intended for remote sensing, providing digital and geographic data, in addition to military uses.
considered “monitor“(RASAT), which was launched from Russia on August 17, 2011, is the first Turkish satellite produced with local expertise and capabilities, and the second small-class remote sensing satellite after Belsat (2003), and is still in operation. The images sent from it are used for mapping and monitoring Disasters, agriculture, environment and urban planning of cities.
The satellite aims Image (imece), which was developed by TUBITAK and launched into orbit on April 15, 2023, will greatly reduce dependence on abroad, meet the needs of Turkish institutions for high-resolution satellite images using special electro-optical cameras, and provide infrastructure for communications systems, star observation and sensors. Solar.