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Malaysian Astronauts Head To NASA For Training

The Malayasian Astronaut candidates - Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, 34, a doctor and part-time model, and Faiz Khaleed, 26, an army dentist. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) May 20, 2007
Malaysia's first space travellers will head to NASA in the United States next month for further training after their current stint in Russia ends, news reports said Sunday. Science Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis said the two candidates will be with NASA in Texas for up to three weeks, as part of the Malaysian Astronaut Programme, according to the Star daily.

"The International Space Station has two portions, the Russian and American, so they have to receive training from both sides," Jarjis was quoted as saying by the Star.

Malaysia's first astronaut and a back-up candidate, chosen from thousands of hopefuls in a nationwide contest, are currently undergoing training at Moscow's Star City before heading into space on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in October.

Jarjis said the government had yet to pick either Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, 34, a doctor and part-time model, and Faiz Khaleed, 26, an army dentist, as the final candidate to blast off into space.

They will head to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in June. The astronaut project was conceived in 2003 when Russia agreed to send a Malaysian to the space station as part of a billion-dollar purchase of 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets.

As part of their contract, neither Muzaphar and Faiz is allowed to marry until the mission concludes in 2008.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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