Thursday, October 11, 2007

...And A Giant Step for Malaysia

Other countries may not give a d*mn, but it's a gigantic step for Malaysiankind :) and he is the first Muslim to blast off to space on a space voyage.

And it doesn't hurt that he's darn cute! ;)

"Malaysia's first astronaut was to blast off on Wednesday on a space voyage seen as breaking new boundaries for the Asian nation and for space travel by Muslims.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was to lift off from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 1322 GMT in a Russian Soyuz rocket headed for the International Space Station (ISS) with Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and American Peggy Whitson.

He was to spend about nine days on the ISS, arriving at the orbiting station near the end of the holy month of Ramadan and staying there for the Eid festival, when he will treat the long-term crew to festive Malaysian food.

Malaysian officials have described the voyage as a national milestone as their country marks 50 years of independence.

Muszaphar, a 35-year-old doctor who has undergone extensive astronaut training, has said he hopes to inspire Malaysians to further space achievements and that Malaysia should have its own spacecraft by 2020.

He is due to conduct scientific experiments on behalf of Malaysia's Genome Institute, including tests on cancer cells to be transported on the Soyuz.

He has also said he will try to observe the fasting rules of Ramadan and that he hopes to get closer to God and share his experiences with other Muslims.

He is one of very few Muslims who have travelled to space. Malaysian religious authorities have prepared guidelines adapting religious rules to life on the ISS, which circles the Earth 16 times per calendar day, meaning that without adapting the rules he would be obliged to pray 80 times in 24 hours.

The guidelines say that the astronaut need only pray five times a day and that the times should follow the location from which the spacecraft blasted off."