Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Angkasawan Programme is the Malaysian national programme to send the first Malaysian to space. The Malaysian will join two other cosmonauts aboard a Soyuz space craft that will rendezvous with the International Space Station, which is in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of approximately 360 km. The Angkasawan will carry out scientific researches on board the space station.

The programme is part of an offset agreement between Malaysia and Russia in relation to Malaysia’s purchase of Russian-made Sukhoi-30MKM fighter jets. Through this package, the Russian government agreed to train two Malaysians, one of which will make the journey while the other one will act as his backup. The Russian Government will bear the costs.

The Malaysian astronaut is officially called the Angkasawan, which means astronaut in the Malaysian language. The two Angkasawan candidates who are now undergoing training were selected out of over 11,000 applicants in an open selection process which started in October 2003 and ended in September 2006.

The Angkasawan Programme is a giant step for Malaysia in developing its scientific and technological capabilities and in buiding its international image. The programme is hoped to spur Malaysians to develop interests in space studies in particular and science and technology in general, and encourage local scientific and space industries. It is also designed to instil a sense of can-do spirit especially amongst the younger Malaysians.

The Angkasawan Programme is only a step in Malaysia’s involvement in space. The Angkasawan Programme, in essence, marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the history of Malaysia.


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