Destination moon by 2020

KUANTAN: Malaysia hopes to take the giant leap by sending its first man to the moon by 2020. 

And Malaysians must not think of this as impossible, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis.  

His ministry would forward this proposal to the Cabinet soon, he said, adding that he believed Malaysians wanted to see their countryman setting foot on the moon.  

He said the first step was to create a pool of successful astronauts. 

MADE IT!: The 12 who qualified for the next round of tests after the run Saturday waving the Jalur Gemilang in Kuantan. —STARpic by NIK NAIZI HUSIN

Malaysia’s First Astronaut Programme to the International Outer Space Station in 2007 would lay the foundation for the ambitious mission, he told reporters here yesterday. 

Earlier, he represented Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in flagging off the Astronaut Run at the RMAF base here. 

National Space Agency director-general Prof Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman was also present. 

The race started here with the first batch of 31 aspirants being tested in the 3.5km Astronaut Run. 

Only 12 completed the race under the stipulated time of 20 minutes. 

They are among 854 candidates undergoing a series of rigorous tests to be short-listed for the space mission. 

Dr Jamaluddin said the low number of runners yesterday indicated that many of those who registered had opted out after deciding that the course might be too tough for them. 

The next run would be held at the Mahkota Camp in Kluang. 

This would be followed by runs at the Penrissen Camp in Kuching, Lok Kawi Camp in Kota Kinabalu, the RMAF base in Butterworth and Subang. 

Dr Jamaluddin said eight people would be short-listed for the final tests in Russia. One of the last two candidates will be the astronaut to go into space with the Russians. 

Russia is helping Malaysia send its first astronaut to space as part of a deal following Malaysia’s purchase of 18 Sukhoi military jets. 

In the speech read out by Dr Jamaluddin, Najib hoped the programme would spur youngsters to explore science, technology and new engineering techniques. 

“All of us must co-operate to support the initiative to send the country’s heroes to outer space,” he said.  

Related Story:Pilot who cheated death among astronaut hopefuls 

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