Jan 24, 2006

Paskal Trained Astronaut

LUMUT, 23 Jan (Bernama) -- The Malaysian astronaut candidates who are not selected after the final screening in April will be made "family members" of the National Space Agency (Angkasa), said Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis.

"We will ask them to form an alumni so that they can continue to be involved in Angkasa activities," he said.

"They will be invited to become volunteers in the first Malaysian-made satellite (Razaksat) launching programme this year," he said after witnessing the subsequent trial session for astronaut candidates at the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Base, here Monday.

Eighteen candidates started the Aeromedical II and Survival trial session beginning today until Thursday involving survival tests in water and on land.

He said that for this session, only 18 candidates were selected because the other nine failed the aerophysiology test and psychology test carried out from Jan 16 to 21 in Kuala Lumpur.

Jamaludin said that after the four-day trial session which would also be conducted by the RMN Commandos (Paskal), 10 more candidates would be dropped.

The remaining eight candidates would undergo another trial session in Kuala Lumpur before four of the eight candidates were chosen for a month-long training in Russia, and their selection would be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would announce the two candidates to pass the session in Russia in April and they would be sent back to Russia for training for 18 months before one of them was selected to be Malaysia's first astronaut scheduled to fly to outer space in October 2007.

"We are confident that the four candidates to be chosen for training in Russia would meet the requirement. I'm impressed with the interest and ability shown by those undergoing the trial sessions. The candidates and those conducting the trials are all very professional," Jamaludin said.

A total of 199 candidates took part in the first session in October last year before 57 were chosen to undergo the first Aeromedical trial session where 27 passed the test.

Meanwhile, S. Vanajah, 34, became the only woman left in the group of 18 candidates who would continue the challenge after Devina David failed in the selection.


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