Türkİye, Science-Technology

Türkiye’s 2nd space traveler Atasever to take suborbital flight on Saturday

Tuva Cihangir Atasever will carry out 7 scientific experiments in microgravity

Zeynep Duyar  | 06.06.2024 - Update : 06.06.2024
Türkiye’s 2nd space traveler Atasever to take suborbital flight on Saturday Astronot Tuva Cihangir Atasever


Türkiye will have its second astronaut in history on Saturday when Tuva Cihangir Atasever embarks on a suborbital research flight from a spaceport in New Mexico, US.

Atasever will carry out the Turkish Space Science Mission Suborbital Research Flight mission, an educational component of the Ax-3 mission that commenced in Houston, US, in April 2023, and will continue in the International Space Station (ISS).

The 31-one-year-old said that seven different scientific experiments, selected by the Industry and Technology Ministry, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye’s (TUBITAK) space program, and the Turkish Space Agency (TUA), will be conducted during the flight.

Atasever will be onboard the VSS Unity spaceplane, operated by the US space tourism firm Virgin Galactic. First, a carrier aircraft will take the spaceplane to an altitude of approximately 45,000 feet (14,000 meters) before being released. It will then ignite a hybrid rocket engine to reach an altitude of 90 kilometers within a minute.

The Turkish engineer noted that during the flight, they would experience g-forces up to 4.5 times Earth’s gravity and reach Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. After reaching the maximum altitude, they will enter the free-fall phase, which will last around three minutes. The craft will then re-enter the atmosphere and glide to land on a runway.

Seven experiments

Atasever explained that he would wear a near-infrared spectroscopy measurement device on his head through all phases of the flight for the BEACON brain imaging experiment, allowing them to study the dynamics of blood flow in the prefrontal cortex and cerebrospinal fluid for nearly 1 1/2 hours.

In microgravity, fluids normally found in the lower parts of the body accumulate toward the skull, which increases intracranial pressure and can impair an astronaut's vision, the Turkish astronaut explained.

The experiment will also help them determine the traces of the “overview effect,” the psychological changes induced by seeing the Earth from a distant point or outer space.

He will also conduct the IvmeRad Radiation Dosimeter test to measure how much radiation he was exposed to. It will be the first space test of a smart, locally made radiation dosimeter to measure the amount of ionizing radiation people are instantaneously exposed to when traveling to space stations.

Another experiment, the Uzikat Insulin Pen Test is a collaboration between TUA and Axiom Space. It will observe how effectively two different insulin pens placed in a special box can transfer the necessary dose in microgravity, paving the way for individuals with diabetes to fly to space stations in the future.

Atasever said that another experiment, called Yuva, will involve sample collection from his extracellular vesicles before and after the flight.

He added that the Message experiment will measure the effects of microgravity on human physiology while the Metabolom experiment will be conducted to find out the biomolecular changes induced by space flight.

Meanwhile, the Miyeloid experiment will examine changes in cell groups suppressing immune system response during inflammatory diseases.

Pre-flight preparations

Atasever mentioned that he traveled to the Axiom Space facilities in the US on May 28 for flight training and to make preparations for the experiment. He is currently at the spaceport in New Mexico, where the launch will take place.

He added that the Turkish and Azerbaijani flags will be among the items he will take to space. Atasever is half-Azerbaijani on his mother’s side.

*Writing by Emir Yildirim in Istanbul

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