The education process of Gezeravcı and Atasever, whose names were announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Aviation, Space and Technology Festival TEKNOFEST 2023, continues intensively in the USA.
Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank also closely follows the education process of Gezeravcı and Atasever.
Turkey’s first space travelers, who had undergone rigorous training in the USA, evaluated their duties in the center where they were trained in Houston.
Saw the space travel adverts by chance
Alper Gezeravcı, who will go to the International Space Station, said that he participated in the space mission while continuing his duty within the Air Force Command.
Stating that the process of applying for space travel was a coincidence, Gezeravcı said:
“After returning from a flight mission at midnight, I was informed of the statement made by our President on the television screen, and the invitation and announcement made to our people for the election stages of the first Turk to be sent into space as part of the ‘Turkish Astronaut and Science Mission’. The next morning, I heard about the same content in the news. “After seeing it, I examined the detailed criteria of the Turkish Space Agency on the website. After seeing that I met the criteria, I made a decision and applied to the program after examining the information of the astronauts who have already worked in this profession in the past years, around 2-3 weeks.”
Gezeravcı stated that although he left every stage in the election process happily and with peace of mind, he did not have any foresight about being elected. The news that he was selected for the task, TÜBİTAK Vice President Prof. Dr. Giving the information he received from Ahmet Yozgatlıgil, Gezeravcı stated that he did not share the news with anyone due to confidentiality reasons.
Stating that the education process started in Houston, Texas, USA, Gezeravcı said that the education processes here continue in circulation at stations in different states.
Emphasizing that they have the opportunity to see the picture of the process much more clearly when they come to the training in the USA, Gezeravcı explained that they have a much clearer idea about the processes waiting for them, physical conditions, the execution of the task and unexpected scenarios.
Planned to stay in space for 14 days
Pointing out that the space mission is planned to be carried out in the last quarter of 2023, Gezeravcı noted that it will be possible to obtain information about the clear timetable in the near future.
Alper Gezeravcı said, “We have a 6-month calendar ahead of us. It is a very full 6-month process, adorned with too much educational content, so we will not even understand how the process went.”
Drawing attention to the educational content, Gezeravcı made the following assessment:
“There are many parts that surprise us as we are well-versed in the educational content. The fact that we have not gone through such a process before and as we are aware of the details that we cannot access in the open source information we follow, we are surprised at how comprehensive the content and details of the education are due to some details that I cannot pronounce too much at the moment. We don’t hide.”
Gezeravcı stated that the launch for the space mission will take place from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and that it is planned to stay in space for 14 days, and that the experiments selected by TÜBİTAK will be carried out in this process.
Emphasizing that he does not think that any subject will force him in the space mission, Gezeravcı said:
“My task, which I had already performed until now, contained the contents and conditions of the task that had to be performed in extreme conditions, apart from daily life conditions. Apart from that, in an unfamiliar environment with no gravity or ‘microgravity’, in an environment where there is very minimal gravity, the movement may seem different. There will be a chance to live and experience the dynamic, but I don’t see any of these as conditions that will force them.”
“My expectation is that our country will take part in larger space projects”
Gezeravcı stated that being Turkey’s first space traveler was “extremely gratifying” and continued as follows:
“It is a first in our history. It is extremely pleasing to see that our country has set out with a will, as it is a step that will raise the self-confidence of a generation whose dreams have been limited by planes flying in the sky, together with the next generations, and will carry the threshold of dreams to space beyond the visible sky. My expectation , this first step we took is a starting step in our history that we will be proud of from now on, and that our country will take its deserved place as not only a participant but also a voice in larger space projects in the coming period.”
Gezeravcı added that he wants to transfer his knowledge and experience to those who will be included in the program in the coming years.
“My ultimate goal and desire is to go to the moon”
Tuva Cihangir Atasever also talked about how her dream of space travel began.
Atasever said, “Actually, since my childhood, I cannot say, ‘I had a dream to be an astronaut and go to space.’ “Being a part of a mission was one of the rational steps. I can say that I made the first decision this way,” he said.
Expressing that he was very excited when Turkey’s first manned space mission was announced, Atasever said:
“When the National Space Program was announced and when it was first announced that a Turkish space traveler would be selected, I had already made up my mind to apply. I applied when the application process started in May 2022. The application process was quite long. We went through extremely intense and challenging tests and elimination stages. We went through screening processes such as intelligence tests, analytical thinking tests, psychological tests, and then some physical environmental tests and interviews. It was a process that took about 10 months in total, it was amazing to be here as a result.”
“It is both happiness and pride to be a part of the historical mission”
Stating that his first goal during the application process was to pass the first qualifying stage, Atasever stated that as the process progressed, his self-confidence increased a little more and he hoped “very fiercely” to be selected.
Atasever said, “I learned that I was elected during the longest day of the night. On December 21, 2022, TÜBİTAK Vice President Ahmet Yozgatlıgil called me on the phone, explained the situation and talked about how the process would progress in detail. I can say that it took a while for me to fully understand the event, right after the speech ended. “After an hour, when I stopped and thought, I realized that ‘Yes, it happened’. I was very excited, of course, very proud. Being a part of such a historical mission is both a joy and a source of pride,” he said.
“We will be a part of much more fun and exciting trainings in the coming months”
Informing that they had mostly undergone theoretical training since the beginning of their training in the USA, Atasever said:
“We are currently trying to digest the technical information, related subsystems, and theoretical materials of the emergency scenarios of the vehicle we will launch into space. In the coming months, we will begin our training, which I can describe as ‘hands on’, more physically, and much more exciting training processes will be waiting for us in the coming months. For example, we will take the ‘centrifuge test’ that we had the chance to experience during the qualifying process in Turkey, then at least it will be the ‘zero-g flight test’ that I have not experienced before, then the USA We will go to places such as Germany, Japan, Alabama to get familiarity trainings on the subsystems and various modules of the International Space Station in different parts of Turkey and the world.From here, our familiarity trainings on the European Space Agency’s Columbus Module and the Japan Space Agency’s Kibo Module A much more exciting, intense, challenging but adventurous journey awaits us.”
“The thing I’m most curious about about space is actually Earth”
Atasever stated that 2 manned flights will be carried out within the scope of the Turkish Space Passenger and Science Mission, and explained that one is a mission to the International Space Station and the other is a suborbital flight.
Stating that the suborbital flight is expected to be realized a few months after the International Space Station mission, which is planned to be carried out in the last quarter of 2023, Atasever stated that the total flight period of the spacecraft will be a few hours, since the suborbital flight is much shorter than the International Space Station mission and does not reach the earth orbit.
Atasever said, “The thing I am most curious about about space is actually about the Earth rather than space. There is a psychological change and transformation experience called the ‘overview effect’ experienced by astronauts who have been to space. “They realize that it is a structure, that we are all teammates and team members traveling in the same spaceship, and they also enjoy the unique beauty of the Earth. The thing I am most curious about about space is actually the Earth,” he said.
Emphasizing that he intends to work for Turkey to have a sustainable space ecosystem and industry after the space mission, Atasever said that this mission is not the last manned space mission, that some of the experiment and production opportunities offered by the micro-gravity environment will be used to the fullest, and that as a result of these opportunities, high quality added value is produced. He noted that he will work day and night “without stopping” for the establishment of a Turkey where job opportunities and technologies will be developed.