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Turkey Invited To Send Cosmonaut for Training By Russia

NASA Astronaut Bruce McCandless II using a Manned Maneuvering Unit outside Space Shuttle Challenger on shuttle mission STS-41-B in 1984. Photograph courtesy of NASA.

Russia has invited Turkey to send a Turkish national for Cosmonaut training, indicating that the relationship between these countries may now bear the substantial weight of ongoing human spaceflight cooperation obligations, despite difficulties on a number of issues, including Syria and the Armenia-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“If Turkey wants to participate in the program, choose strong and healthy people with higher technical education and send [them here], we are ready to train them,” Viktor Suvorov, an instructor at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, told Anadolu Agency.

Russian cosmonaut Sergey Revin told the Anadolu Agency he had visited the Turkish capital, Ankara, where the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) held an exhibition, last year. Turkey’s interest in space has increased in recent years, he added. Revin said that he wants to go to the International Space Station (ISS) with a Turkish cosmonaut.

“Why wouldn’t it [Turkey] get involved in the International Space Station program?” Revin continued. “The current space station will continue to fly until 2024, so Turkey does not have enough time to construct its own module for the ISS. But the program will continue, and Turkey can be part of it.”

“[Turkey] can make its own module for the next ISS and connect it, for example, to the Russian segment. In this case, more systematic work can be carried out and many Turkish pilots could fly into space,” he added.

Sharing his experience about witnessing Turkey from the space, Revin said: “Turkey looks very beautiful from the space. The mountains look the best. The Salt Lake is in different colors, so it is seen very well from the space too. Turkey is surrounded by the seas, because of that it is easily identified from the outer space.”

“We now have an excellent experience in operating the International Space Station which is currently being used by 15 countries. At the same time, there is an opportunity for any country to have a contract and send its cosmonauts to the station,” said Andrey Kuritsin, head of the research institute in the training centre. He added that awareness is growing around the world about the importance of space travel, and new programs are being developed to go to the Moon and into deeper space.

The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, located 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Moscow, has been preparing cosmonauts for space flight since the first human journey into outer space in 1961. The center gives each flight crew a six-year training using replicas of the Soyuz spacecraft and of the ISS. Cosmonauts Alexander Gerst, Serena M. Aunon-Chancellor, and Sergey Prokopyev, who were launched aboard Soyuz MS-09 on 6 June 2018, had been trained in the centre before their flight to the ISS.

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