Angkasawan Negara Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie, 35, an orthopedic surgeon with HUKM, the first Malaysian in space will blast off into the 360km elevation orbit in a Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft tonight, at 9.22pm Malaysian time. The event will take place at Baikonur Cosmodrome, right in the interiors of Kazakhstan.
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dato’ Seri Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis will be present at the launch, representing the Malaysian Government. The Angkasawan program is under the purview of his MOSTI ministry. It will be carried live by Astro channel 588, from the 8 October till the safe return on 21 October. RTM 1 will also feed the launch live tonight.
The spacecraft carrying the three astronauts in this 16th mission will dock with International Space Station (ISS). Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar is said to be fasting during the journey and whilst in space, will be spending Hari Raya Aidil Fitri from the ISS. As a former MRSM Muar alumnus, the ‘Ansarawan’ posted a special message to the Ex-MRSM Alumni (ANSARA) Portal.
Ucapan Khas Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor
Wednesday October 10, 2007
Sheikh Muszaphar set to be first Malaysian in space
BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan): Hospital UKM’s Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor will make history when he goes into space on board the Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft at 9.22pm (Malaysian time) on Wednesday.
“It’s a small step for me, but a great leap for the Malaysian people,’’ Dr Sheikh Muszaphar – the first Malaysian to go into space – told the Associated Press, rephrasing Neil Armstrong’s legendary words after the Apollo landing on the moon in 1969.
He will spend 10 days in space, including eight on board the Inter-national Space Station (ISS) where he will be part of the ISS Expedition16 crew.
The TMA-11 craft carrying the 35-year-old doctor and his flight mates – Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and American astronaut Peggy Whitson – is scheduled to dock at the ISS at 10.51pm (local time) on Friday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Cabinet Ministers and 280 students will watch the live broadcast of the launch at the KL Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur tonight.
On Sunday, Abdullah will hold a teleconference with Dr Sheikh Muszaphar who will then be on board the ISS.
Another first for the Malaysian Angkasawan is that he will be hosting a Hari Raya party on board the space station on the first day of Syawal. He has taken satay and some kuih Raya to treat the others on board.
At the ISS, he will carry out four experiments drawn up by Malaysian scientists.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is to study of the effects of microgravity and space radiation on cells and microbes, as well as experiments with proteins for a potential HIV vaccine.
The rocket – adorned with a Malaysian flag and coat of arms and carrying the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft – was moved on Monday to the launch pad from its assembly site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia rents from Kazakhstan.
Malaysia is paying for the voyage as part of a billion-dollar purchase of Russian fighter jets.
Russia built the cosmodrome on the arid plains of Kazakhstan during Soviet times and has continued to use the site under a rental deal since the 1991 Soviet collapse.
Russia is marking 50 years of space exploration, having celebrated on Oct 4 the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first ever satellite, Sputnik.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is to return to Earth on Oct 21 with two Russian members of the current space station crew.
Whitson and Malenchenko will stay on as the station’s new crew, and will be joined in October by American astronaut Daniel Tani, who is arriving with the shuttle Discovery. Tani will replace fellow American Clayton Anderson, who has been at the station since June.
Malaysians will eagerly wait this historical moment, with prayers, 46 years after the first manned flight to space by Russian Cosmonaut Major Yuri Gagarin. Even though the Indonesians first ventured seriously into aerospace beginning in the 70s, the Singaporeans later mastered the science of avionics and communications and the Vietnamese is the closest political and military ally of the Soviet Union (now Russia) in the region, its the Malaysians who will be the first South East Asian in space.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who is avid mover of science and technology, launched the initial steps towards the Angkasawan project and Dato’ Dr. Mazlan Othman, a former physics professor who was attached as the Head of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, appointed to head the Agensi Angkasa Lepas Negara (then known as Space Science Division under Jabatan Perdana Menteri). A planetarium was built in the 90s to expose Malaysians in astronomy sciences and space explorations. Then it went into serious mode for sending a Malaysian into space missions and started the ball rolling.
Angkasawan (TM) programmed core ideals are to the achieve these objectives:
To send a Malaysian Angkasawan(TM) to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2007 signalling a giant step in the nation’s march towards the future.
To gain knowledge and experience from Russia and other countries as a platform for Malaysia to develop further its technological and scientific capabilities and expertise.
To instill in Malaysians a unity of purpose and generate amongst Malaysians a sense of national identity and pride.
To inspire all Malaysians to strive for excellence and to inspire young Malaysians to explore new areas of science and technology.
In October 2003, the selection for Angkasawan started, where 11,000 able bodied Malaysians were evaluated and finally two candidates were finalised in 2006.
This is former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s message on this historical launch, transmitted from Bunga Raya VIP ward, IJN via Sufi Yusoff.
Saya ucapkan tahniah kepada Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha yang telah terpilih menjadi Angkasawan pertama negara.
Saya berbangga kerana sempena 50-tahun kemerdekaan negara, impian kita untuk menghantar rakyat Malaysia ke angkasa bakal tercapai.
Berbekalkan semangat serta kecekapan yang diperolehi hasil daripada program latihan Angkasawan yang dituruti, saya percaya Dr Sheikh Muszaphar akan berjaya menjalankan tugas dan tanggungjawabnya dengan sempurna.
Sebagai rakyat, saya berdoa agar misi yang akan membawa Dr Sheikh Muszaphar ke “International Space Station” berjalan lancar dan selamat.
Saya percaya Angkasawan Malaysia yang pertama akan memanfaatkan segala apa yang dipelajari daripada pengalaman ini. Apa yang akan dikongsi bersama dengan rakyat akan menjadi sumber inspirasi kepada generasi akan datang.
Kejayaan Dr Sheikh Muszaphar dan Dr Faiz Khaleed menyertai program Angkasawan ini membuktikan yang rakyat Malaysia mempunyai kecekapan yang tidak kurang berbanding bangsa lain.
Tidak ada apa-apa yang boleh menghalang kita daripada mencapai yang terbaik. Hanya kecekalan, keberanian, semangat ingin berjaya dan tidak mahu tunduk dan mengalah yang akan membawa kita ke mercu kejayaan.
Sekali lagi saya ucapkan tahniah kepada Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, selamat berangkat dan selamat kembali. Kepada, Dr Faiz, walaupun tidak terpilih pada kali ini, saya gembira mendengar bahawa beliau akan berpeluang menyertai program Angkasawan yang kedua di masa hadapan.
Kepada semua pihak dan agensi Kerajaan yang terlibat di dalam menjayakan program Angkasawan ini saya ucapkan tahniah.
Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
Institut Jantung Negara
Oktober 10, 2007
Now, lets us all pray for the success of this mission and more missions to come, for Malaysians to benefit from all these space mission applications can bring us.
May Allah s.w.t. bless Angkasawan Negara Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar’s mission that is pride of the nation and the Malaysian public.