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Man who flew on umbrella announces aim to become Turkiye's first astronaut

FLORIDA, USA - DECEMBER 18: A Falcon 9 rocket carrying Turkey’s new telecommunication satellite Turksat 5B stands ready for launch on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on December 18, 2021 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Turkey’s new telecommunication satellite Turksat 5B will be launched by the US aerospace company SpaceX. ( Yasin Öztürk - Anadolu Agency )
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying Turkey’s new telecommunication satellite Turksat 5B stands ready for launch on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on December 18, 2021 in Cape Canaveral, Florida [Yasin Öztürk - Anadolu Agency]

A man who became famous in Turkiye three years ago by flying with a giant umbrella being blown by strong winds has announced his intention to become an astronaut and "the first Turk to go into space".

In March 2019, footage circulated on social media and news sites of a Turkish man flying while trying to secure himself on the base of a large patio umbrella due to strong winds during record storms throughout the country and the region.

The man, named Sadık Kocadallı who lives in Osmaniye province, was jokingly labelled, back then, as "Turkiye's first astronaut". That label may indeed be coming true, however, as Kocadallı has now announced his aim to become the country's first astronaut set to enter space.

His announcement came after Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this week announced that the government is searching for one citizen who it will choose to send to the International Space Station (ISS) for a scientific mission.

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The initiative is a key part of the country's ambitious space programme, with applications having opened late on Mondayand lasting until 23 June. The mission is predicted to take place as early as the first half of 2023.

"We are now famous in Turkiye's agenda", Kocadallı told the Ihsan News Agency (IHA) this week. "Our President is choosing some of the Turks to go to space. I also became famous as a flying man. Now I want to go to space, too. It would be good if Mr. President sends me to space as well."

He acknowledged that "Some of my criteria fit and some do not, but we will try to make the criteria that do not meet". Thecriteria for eligible applicants includes Turkish citizens who are under the age of 45, have a bachelor's degree in engineering, natural sciences or basic sciences, and who arefluent in speaking English.

Some of his friends and fellow tradesmen gave their support to Kocadallı's ambitions, with vegetable market seller,Mehmet Şabap telling IHA that "I also support my friend. Let him go to space; we would be pleased as a friend of the tradesman, and he would comply with the criteria."

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