Friday, October 05, 2007

04/10: Russian envoy confirms that Malaysian is not a ‘mere passenger’
Category: General
Posted by: Raja Petra
The StarThe Malaysian Angkasawan is no passenger or tourist but a full-fledges cosmonaut, said Russian ambassador to Malaysia Alexander Karchava. Keeping tabs: Malaysian Mission programme director and flight surgeon Kol Dr Zulkefli Jusoh checking on Dr Sheikh Muszaphar in Kazakhstan recently.“Russia does not see him as a mere passenger to the International Space Station (ISS). He is a researcher. The experiments he will carry out were discussed between Russia and Malaysia. “We don’t consider him as a space tourist but a full-fledge cosmonaut,” he said in an interview at the Russian embassy here. Recently, it was reported that Nasa had listed Malaysia’s two Angkasawans as space flight participants and not as astronauts for the ISS mission 16. This led to several reports here doubting the status of the Angkasawan. Describing the cynics as possessing “logical myopia,” he said that during the medieval period, there were also critics who doubted the European quests to seek new territories, claiming it a waste of money. “Yet in the end, it was those who went beyond the known worlds who reaped political and economic benefits. “Now we must seek new territories in space,” he said, adding that the Angkasawan had an important job to do, carrying out vital scientific experiments to benefit Malaysia and the world. To those calling it the Govern-ment’s “waste of money,” Karchava explained that the Russian government would foot the bill to send the Malaysian cosmonaut to space, as an offset deal for Malaysia’s purchase of its Sukhoi fighter jets. He noted that even before the Oct 10 launch, Malaysia and Russia had already planned mutual projects, namely Malaysian scientists involved in the National Space Programme had been invited to propose experiments on Russian volunteers undergoing simulation exercises for the Mars exploration project. Past collaboration included Malaysia’s first satellite TiungSat launched by a Russian rocket, which had opened the door for the launch of RazakSat next year. In defence aviation, Malaysia had purchased Russia’s MiG29 fighter jets in 1994 and the Sukhoi jets in 2003. “Your Angkasawan will create history for Malaysia and his achievement will be the national pride and install Malaysia as a member of the Space Club. “To appreciate this, you cannot confine yourself to your kampung. Malaysians have gone places and will go places, even to space,” said the diplomat who speaks fluent Bahasa Indonesia.