All abuzz over space candidate
KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor looks set to be the first Malaysian in space.
Foreign media have been reporting that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be the country’s angkasawan as he had been going through final tests with the American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko at the Star City Cosmonaut just outside Moscow since Tuesday.
In fact, the United States National Aeronautical Space Agency (Nasa) had listed Dr Sheikh Muszaphar as a member of the International Space Station Expedition 16 and placed his picture together with the other crew members on its website.
However, sources with the Angkasawan Project said the reason for the foreign media and Nasa naming him as a member of the crew was because Dr Sheikh Muszaphar had always been named as the “primary candidate” and Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed as the secondary one.
“The two of them had received exactly the same training but like all space missions, there must be a primary candidate and a secondary one,” said one official familiar with the selection process.
“This does not mean that Dr Sheikh is definitely the one to go. The Government still have a few days before making their choice known.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to announce the successful candidate on Friday.