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. Malaysia may buy Russian space rocket

by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Nov 6, 2007
Russia has offered to sell Malaysia the Soyuz craft that carried the first Malaysian astronaut into space, state media reported.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor blasted off on the Russian spacecraft on October 10 and spent nine days at the International Space Station (ISS), in an odyssey linked to the billion-dollar purchase of fighter jets from Russia.

Malaysia's Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis said he will submit Russia's offer to the cabinet, the official Bernama news agency reported late Monday.

"I received the offer while waiting for Dr Sheikh Muszaphar's return in Russia. We are discussing the matter and if the price is right we can bring it back to Malaysia," he said.

Jamaluddin said it was "a good idea" but the government would have to be sure the public supported the move. He did not say how much the craft would cost.

Muszaphar, a 35-year-old doctor and part-time model, was chosen from thousands of hopefuls in a nationwide competition that generated tremendous excitement in Malaysia.

The Malaysian astronaut trained for over a year before taking part on the mission with American Peggy Whitson, the new commander on the ISS, and Russia's Yury Malenchenko.

The government is now considering Russia's offer to send a second Malaysian into space in the next two years.

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