Astronauts from Turkey, Italy and Sweden returned to Earth after a private flight to the space station

Astronauts from Turkey, Italy and Sweden returned to Earth on Friday, completing a three-week private mission to the International Space Station.

The trio was accompanied by a former NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom Space, the Houston company that organized the private flight. The crew returned on a SpaceX capsule, which parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

Türkiye celebrated Alper Gezeravci’s takeoff from Cape Canaveral. A former fighter pilot and Turkish Airlines captain, Gezeravci became the first person from his country to fly into space.

He was accompanied on the trip by Italian Air Force Colonel Walter Villaday, Swede Marcus Wandt, a former fighter pilot selected by the European Space Agency as a reserve astronaut in 2022, and his companion Michael Lopez-Alegria.

Türkiye, Italy and Sweden financed the mission, paying about $55 million per person. This was Axiom’s third private mission to the space station; The fourth is scheduled for later this year.

Before leaving the station, Gezeravci thanked his country for its “brave and determined decision” to send a citizen into space as part of its centenary celebrations as a republic.

While in orbit, the astronauts conducted science experiments, interacted with schoolchildren and officials from their countries, and spent several extra days on the space station waiting for the weather to improve in the splashdown area.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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