ISTANBUL – A welcome ceremony was held after the arrival of the Axiom Mission 3 crew at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday.
The seven-member station crew met the Ax-3 astronauts -- Michael Lopez-Alegria, Walter Villadei, Marcus Wandt, and Türkiye's first-ever space traveler, Alper Gezeravci.
The mission was launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 4:49 p.m. ET Thursday (2149GMT) on a Falcon 9 rocket of private space exploration company SpaceX.
The crew docked at 5:42 a.m. EST (10:42 GMT) and entered the ISS at 07:16 EST. The four-person team will conduct more than 30 scientific researches during their 14-day stay.
"This is an incredibly exciting time for human spaceflight with the third private mission, which is allowing many more countries to participate in the scientific research and technology development that we do onboard this orbiting laboratory," ISS commander Andreas Mogensen during the ceremony.
"We have doubled the number of nationalities onboard the space station going from four to eight, which I think is a great testament to the international collaboration, which underpins this marvelous space station."
Türkiye's Gezeravci said he was happy to represent his country, and looked forward to contributing to science and research efforts.
Lopez-Alegria, the leader of the Ax-3 mission, said: "This is really a symbol of how Axiom, in conjunction with NASA and other partners, is working to expand human access to low Earth orbit."
"So many nationalities represented onboard and this is really symbolic of what we're trying to do to open it up not only to other nations, also to individuals and researchers," he added.
Pilot Villadei said it was amazing to be up on the ISS and see how international collaboration has led to creating this outpost.
Crew member Wandt said it was great flying around and orbiting the Earth for 36 hours. (Anadolu)