ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year. Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is a 30-year-old aviation systems engineer at Turksih defense contractor Roketsan. Erdogan made the announcement on Saturday at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul. It was his first public appearance since he fell ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.
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