10 Oct 2007

T minus 22: Malaysia First Astronaut Blasts Off!

From left: Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (Malaysia), Yuri Malanchenko (Russia) and Peggy Whitson (U.S.)

T minus 22 hours (2120 UT8, 10 Oct), Malaysia first astronaut will blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz TMA-11. Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (35) is the final candidate since the open selection process for “Angkasawan” (Malaysian language for astronaut) started from October 2003 to September 2006. Dr.Faiz (another angkasawan) is in the backup crew. There are 3 members in the main crew, including Dr.Sheikh, Yuri Malanchenko and Peggy Whitson.

The 50-metre (160-foot) rocket adorned with the US, Malaysian and Russian flags was earlier raised into position at Baikonur, an arid stretch of the Kazakh steppe dotted with camels and the paraphernalia of 50 years of space flight.

When do we have the technology to send astronauts to space? Russia offered a deal to send an angkasawan to the ISS as we bought Sukhoi-30MKM fighter jets from them. So, what will Dr.Sheikh do in the ISS?

He will do scientific experiments of cancer cells, bacterias, protein crystallization and a few more collaborating with the European Space Agency. They will install 4 modules to the ISS, which are Node 2, Columbus, ATV and the Japanese Laboratory Module. Since it is now “puasa” (fasting), he will fast in the space and pray to Allah. I hope he will have enough energy. He will also use his Nikon D2X (hmm.. expensive camera) to image the Petronas Twin Tower (landmark of Malaysia) from the ISS. His other “mission” is to share the Malaysian’s food and spread the Malaysia culture to the other cosmonauts on board. Dr Sheikh will play "batu seremban,'' or "five stones'' and spin traditional Malay tops in space, Agriculture Ministry parliamentary secretary Rohani Abdul Karim told parliament on Wednesday. Rohani, who was replying on behalf of the Science, Technology and Innovations Ministry, said the astronaut would also do batik painting and making teh tarik. He also will bring Biryani Chicken, Satay Ayam, Rendang Tok, Sliced dried Mango, Banana rolls, Tempe, Ginger Jelly, Roselle Granola Bar and Kuih Raya Bangkit. Hopefully they will enjoy!

I do not care what NASA says about our effort to the space, we are only a "participant" in this space program to them but NASA will NEVER bring us to the space!

More info about Dr. Sheikh: Wikipedia


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