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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

09/03/2005

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

Bernama

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

Teh Tarik, Roti Canai And Sambal Belacan In Space?
KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Bernama) -- Guess what will the first Malaysianastronaut eat and wear in space when joining the Russian space missionscheduled in October 2007.

Teh tarik, roti canai, sambal belacan and batik!

It's not funny. This is a serious matter.

National Space Agency Director-General Prof Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman said alot of scientific research would be carried out in realising the idea.

"We just want our astronaut to enjoy Malaysian food in space and it willinvolve a lot of science in preparing them," she told reporters afterattending the launch of "Exploring the Solar System" exhibition at theNational Planetarium here.

She said the National Space Agency would be sending a chef and a fashiondesigner to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) inHouston, the United States, to conduct the research with the help of theAmerican space agency.

"We just want our astronaut to share the local culture with the Russiancolleagues during the mission," she said.

Dr Mazlan said ulama might also be involved in the research should thesuccessful astronaut candidate is a Muslim.

"Their help is needed in determining the direction of kiblat (Kaabah) andprayer time in space," she said.

Asked whether durians would be brought or allowed in the space craft, shesaid: "No. No."

The Malaysian astronaut programme costing about US$25 million (RM95million) is part of an offset programme for the procurement of 18 SukhoiSU-30 MKM multi-role combat aircraft worth US$900 million (RM3.4 billion)from Russia.

The deal was signed on Aug 5, 2003 in Putrajaya. The fighter jets will bedelivered in stages from next year.

Russia will implement a transfer of technology and offset programme worthUS$270 million (RM1.026 billion), constituting about 30 per cent of thecontract value.

In a counter-purchase arrangement, Russia will buy US$270 million worth ofpalm oil from Malaysia, while the balance of the aircraft purchase will bepaid in cash by Malaysia.

Dr Mazlan said the Malaysian astronaut would not merely be "a passenger"during the space mission as he or she would carry out scientificexperiments during the six to eight days stint at the International SpaceStation.

"It is not a glamorous trip. The trip will not be the end of the(Malaysian) astronaut career," she said.

Dr Mazlan said two experts from Russia's space agency would arrive inMalaysia by end of this month to help in the selection of candidates forthe Malaysian astronaut programme.

She said 30 aspiring astronauts have been shortlisted from 3,700applicants for the Russian space mission.

From the shortlisted candidates, 10 will be chosen by a team from theRussian space agency. They will then be sent to Russia by year-end for athorough check-up.

Only two will be selected to undergo the two-year training. One willbecome the first Malaysian to journey into space while the other will beput on the reserve list.

The three-week exhibition beginning Tuesday is jointly organised by theBritish Council and the National Space Agency. Admission is free.

-- BERNAMA