Türkİye, Science-Technology

Türkiye's 2nd astronaut to conduct 7 scientific experiments

Launch set to take place from Virgin Galactic's Spaceport facilities in US state of New Mexico, says Tuva Cihangir Atasever

Zeynep Duyar, Ayşe Böcüoğlu Bodur  | 08.05.2024 - Update : 08.05.2024
Türkiye's 2nd astronaut to conduct 7 scientific experiments


Türkiye's second astronaut Tuva Cihangir Atasever said Tuesday that he will have a chance to carry out seven experiments during his suborbital research flight.

“The launch will take place from Virgin Galactic's Spaceport facilities in the US state of New Mexico," he said, speaking at a press conference titled “Turkish Space Science Mission Suborbital Research Flight” at the Ministry of Industry and Technology attended by Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacir and first Turkish astronaut Alper Gezeravci.

Indicating that the earliest expected launch date was June 8, he noted that his flight will differ from that of Gezeravci.

"In his flight, they took off from the Earth with a rocket from the first moment. In my flight, we will travel together with the carrier aircraft and our spacecraft to an altitude of about 45,000 feet, which is called an 'air launch,’ which corresponds to an altitude of 14 kilometers (8.7 miles)," he said.

Stressing that the idea is "to pass the thick layers of the atmosphere, he added: "When we reach the 14-km altitude, the rocket engine on the spacecraft is ignited with the separation operation.”

"Rapidly, within a minute, this spacecraft reaches a speed three times the speed of sound. It reaches an altitude of 90 kilometers (56 miles) and freefalls. As soon as the thrust of the rocket on the spacecraft ends, microgravity conditions begin, and our spacecraft enters the freefall phase."

"During the entry phase into the atmosphere, the spacecraft does not have any propulsion system on board, so it glides and lands. This glide phase is expected to be a pretty interesting and exciting process. The spacecraft will land on the same runway from which it took off with the carrier aircraft," he said, adding the flight is expected to last 90 minutes in total.

Atasever said he will first conduct a brain imaging experiment called BEACON and that within the scope of this experiment, he will carry a near-infrared spectroscopy measurement device that he will wear on his head during all phases of the flight, so that he will examine the dynamics of blood distribution and spinal fluid in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain.

Pointing out that the fluids in the lower parts of the body gather towards the skull in a microgravity environment, he said: “This increases the pressure inside the skull. This can bring about various problems related to the health of astronauts. For example, their vision can deteriorate.”

"The effect of spinal fluid on this situation will be observed for the first time in a space flight. In addition, our researchers will reveal the psychological changes and transformations that seeing the world from a distant point will cause on me by collecting samples from me.”

Saying that they will obtain information on how much radiation he was exposed to with the IvmeRad Radiation Dosimeter experiment, Atasever said they will be able to make predictions about how much radiation that people who will go to space stations will be exposed to instantly in the following processes.

He said that with the Insulin Pen in Space Test, a joint experiment of TUA and Axiom Space, two different insulin pens placed in a special box will be carried into space, and the dose transfer efficiency in this environment will be tested for the first time.

Atasever highlighted that the mechanism will be activated by adjusting the doses of the insulin pens on a specially designed pocket on the flight suit as soon as it reaches the microgravity environment.

The MESSAGE, METABOLOM and MIYELOID experiments included in Gezeravci's mission will also be implemented during Atasever's Suborbital Research Mission.

The data will be evaluated as a result of this mission.

Noting that this flight will be the 12th and last flight of the spacecraft he will travel with, Atasever said: “This spacecraft will now be retired. Virgin Galactic will turn to developing different systems.”

Gezeravci expressed his full support for Atasever, adding they began the training in April 2023.

"We come from two different scientific backgrounds. I have experience and knowledge in the field of aviation. Tuva also has extensive intellectual knowledge and experience in the field of engineering. We had a great pleasure to share this knowledge and experience with each other," he said.

Gezeravci also highlighted that they are well positioned to support each other if need be.

*Writing by Serdar Dincel from Istanbul

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