The Ax-3 space mission began its journey to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, blasting off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with its four-person crew, including Türkiye's first spacefarer Alper Gezeravcı. Launching from SpaceX's facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 4.49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (ET) (2149GMT) on a Falcon 9 rocket of private space exploration company SpaceX, the crew is expected to dock at the ISS at approximately 5.15 a.m. ET on Saturday. Gezeravcı and his three crewmates from Spain, Italy, and Sweden will conduct over 30 scientific experiments and demonstrations on the ISS as part of the Ax-3 mission. Gezeravcı is Türkiye's very first-ever space traveler and will conduct 13 scientific researches during his 14-day stay on the ISS. The Ax-3 mission is being led by Michael Lopez-Alegria, representing the US and Spain, while the crew also includes Walter Villadei as pilot, from the Italian Air Force, and Marcus Wandt of Sweden, representing the European Space Agency. The liftoff was initially planned for Jan. 9 but was postponed twice to Jan. 17 and then to Jan. 18. The 70-meter (230-foot) Falcon 9 rocket, with a diameter of 3.7 meters and weight of roughly 550 tons, has a payload capacity of 22,000 kilograms (over 24 tons) in low Earth orbit, 8,300 kg in geostationary transfer orbit and 4,000 kg on Mars. The 8.1-meter Dragon capsule, which can carry seven people or an equal amount of cargo in its pressurized area with air flow inside, is capable of carrying cargo in its unpressurized rear section.