Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.
Air Force pilot Alper Geseravci, 43, was selected as the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, his 30-year-old aviation systems engineer for Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.
Erdogan made the announcement at the Technofest Aerospace Trade Fair in Istanbul. It was the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during his television interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Libya’s Caretaker Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dubeybe.
“Our friends who are going on Turkey’s first manned space mission will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronauts will perform 13 different experiments during this mission, prepared by our country’s respected universities and research institutes.”
Erdogan described Geseravci as “a heroic Turkish pilot who achieved great success at the Air Force Command”.
Gezeravtsi is a 21-year Air Force veteran and an F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, according to the Turkish Space Agency’s website.
Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared robust and fit as he addressed the crowd at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are due for his May 14, and polls show Erdogan may face the toughest election campaign since he came to power 20 years ago. .
Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic slump, and the government came under fire after February’s earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in the country. Experts attribute the high death toll in part to shoddy construction and building code enforcement.
During his campaign for re-election, President Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, including Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.
https://www.voanews.com/a/erdogan-back-on-election-trail-unveils-turkey-s-first-astronaut-/7072252.html Erdogan back on electoral track, announces Turkey’s first cosmonaut