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Review of plan to send second astronaut into space

PETALING JAYA, 3 Nov 2008: A review seems likely of the plan to send the country’s second astronaut into space in 2011 or 2012 in view of the uncertain global economy.

Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadhillah Yusof said today priority had to be given to more important programmes in view of the current economic situation.

Major Dr Faiz Khaleed, the candidate who was supposed to go on the space trip, would continue to attend the scheduled training sessions to create awareness and kindle the interest of young people in science and technology.

This is necessary to boost the nation’s competitiveness, he told reporters after launching an ISO 26000 seminar on Guidance on Social Responsibility: Impact on Trade and Social Development in Southeast Asia, here.

Fadhillah said that if necessary the priority for the programme would be lowered or the programme postponed, but the decision would have to be made by the cabinet.

The National Angkasawan (Astronaut) Programme was launched in 2003 after the Russian government agreed to help send a Malaysian to the International Space Station (ISS) in geo-stationary orbit as part of a technology transfer deal tied with Malaysia’s purchase of 18 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets.

Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha became the first Malaysian angkasawan when he spent 12 days in the ISS in October last year. — Bernama


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