A team of astronauts from Turkey, Italy, and Sweden concluded their private three-week trip to the International Space Station on Friday as they safely landed back on Earth in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The trio were accompanied by a retired NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the chartered flight. The crew returned in a SpaceX capsule that parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast.
Last month, Turkey commemorated Alper Gezeravci’s successful takeoff from Cape Canaveral. Gezeravci, a former fighter pilot and captain for Turkish Airlines, made history as the first Turkish person to travel to space.
Gezeravci was accompanied on the journey by Col. Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, Marcus Wandt of Sweden, who was selected as a backup astronaut by the European Space Agency in 2022, and their escort, Michael Lopez-Alegria.
Turkey, Italy and Sweden financed the mission, paying roughly $55 million apiece. It was Axiom’s third private mission to the space station; the fourth is planned later this year.
Prior to departing the space station, Gezeravci expressed gratitude to his nation for its courageous and resolute choice to send a citizen into space as a commemoration of its 100th year as a republic.
During their time in space, the astronauts performed scientific experiments and engaged in conversations with students and government representatives from their respective nations. They also had the opportunity to spend some additional days at the space station, as they waited for better weather conditions in the designated splashdown area.
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