CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Turkish, Italian and Swedish astronauts returned to Earth Friday, ending a three-week commercial mission aboard the International Space Station.
The three were accompanied by a former NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the charter flight. The crew returned in a SpaceX capsule and parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
Last month, Turkey celebrated the launch of Alpel Gezeravci from Cape Canaveral. A former fighter pilot and captain of Turkish Airlines, he became the first person in his home country to fly into space.
Geselavci was accompanied on the trip by Colonel Walter Villaday of the Italian Air Force, Markus Vandt of Sweden, a former fighter pilot who was selected as a reserve astronaut by the European Space Agency in 2022, and his companion Michael Mr. López-Alegría accompanied him.
Turkey, Italy and Sweden funded the mission, each paying about $55 million. This was his third civilian mission to the Axiom space station. A fourth is planned for later this year.
Before departing from the space station, Geselavci thanked his country for its “bold and decisive decision” to send its citizens into space as part of the republic’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
While in orbit, the astronauts conducted science experiments and spoke with elementary school students and government officials from their home countries. They spent several more days on the space station, waiting for the weather to improve in the landing zone.
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