|LATEST: KUALA LUMPUR March 26, 2004 - Malaysia's aim to send an astronaut to space by 2005 may face a two-year delay, Malaysian National Space Agency (NSA) Director Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman said Friday.
She attributed the delay to the explosion of the United State's space shuttle Columbia after entering the Earth's atmosphere on Feb 1, 2003. In the incident, all seven of the shuttle's crew members were killed.
She said in the first screening, the NSA had shortlisted 3,505 out of 7,750 applicants to the programme but expected only a small group of people to be finally selected for training. - Bernama.
|The lucky applicant will travel to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft like the one above.|
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13: Candidates aspiring to be the first Malaysians in space will be shortlisted in two months’ time.
The successful two will be selected by the Malaysia Astronaut Programme Committee next April and will undergo training at the International Space Station in Russia. They will be identified as Malaysian astronauts.
Launch countdown is scheduled for the end of 2005.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysians of all walks of life who met the criteria for selection could apply, beginning today, to be trained for the mission.
"Applications are open now and you can register through the website (www.angkasawan.gov.my)," he said at a Press conference at Wisma Pertahanan in Jalan Padang Tembak.
Also present was National Space Agency director-general Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman.
Applicants should be over 21 and should be prepared to train for 18 months in Russia.
They should also be medically and psychologically fit, have the appropriate academic qualifications, physical ability and aptitude.
Among the minimum medical standards required are vision rating of 20/70, blood pressure of 12080(sitting) or 140-90 (standing).
"We will select anyone irrespective of gender who fits the bill, not necessarily a scientist or pilot but one who is suitable to be trained as an astronaut. We hope the space programme will spur more Malaysians to pursue a career in space studies and encourage local scientific and space industries," Najib said.
While Najib declined to reveal the exact criteria for selection, it is learnt the National Aeronautics and Space Agency of the United States sets a minimum standard for candidates: they must possess a degree in engineering, biology, physics or mathematics.
Mission specialists need to have at least three years' experience in a related field in addition to a Master's degree or PhD.
"The training programme will involve candidates who have to undergo scientific tests in space, including communicating with earth and space stations via radio and video," said Najib.
Malaysia's participation in the space programme came about following an agreement with Russia after the purchase of 18 Sukhoi Su30 MKM fighter jets worth a total of US$900 million (RM3.42 billion).
Under the package, Russia agreed to a transfer of technology worth 30 per cent or RM1.06 billion of the jets' purchase cost.
Najib also announced at the Press conference that the National Space Agency had started a scientific experimental contest for Malaysians to send their inventions into space along with the two selected astronauts.