Early Raya for Sheikh

  • Nation
  • Friday, 12 Oct 2007

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian to go to space, will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri on Friday, a day earlier than Malaysians, on board the Soyuz capsule and the International Space Station (ISS). 

Today is Hari Raya in Kazakhstan, the place from where he was blasted off to space. 

Besides celebrating Raya, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will also see the Soyuz capsule docking with the ISS on Friday. 

All gearedup: Dr SheikhMuszapharpointing at theMalaysian flagbeforeboarding thespace capsuleonWednesday.— Reuters

The Malaysian, however, will not be missing out on delicious Hari Raya food in space. He has brought along nine Malaysian delicacies. 

Although they are not home-cooked, they are specially prepared for space. The treats he will get to enjoy are kuih bangkit, granola bars, rendang daging, nasi himpit briyani, gegulung pisang, dried mango slices, ginger jelly, chicken satay and tempe chips.  

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will share the food with his crewmembers. The items were prepared under the Mardi food-in-space programme to test the agency’s capability to package and develop food items for space. 

They were approved by the Russian Federal Space Agency as they complied with safety, hygiene and contamination requirements since the ISS must be kept sterile.  

Since wet food such as kuah (gravy) is not allowed in space, those normally eaten with gravy are kept dry but moist and tightly packed. 

The crew has a regimented schedule that includes specific times for eating and drinking. 

As part of the Mardi programme, they will fill out questionnaires after consuming the food Dr Sheikh Muszaphar brought along. 

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, American Commander Peggy Whitson and Russian Yuri Malechencko blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 9.22pm (Malaysian time) on Oct 10.  

During the entire two days spent circling the earth while preparing to dock with the ISS, the crew members will be strapped to their customised seats because of the small capsule space. 

Hence, they had their digestive systems flushed out a day prior to launch and they are wearing diapers inside their space suits, which need to be worn at all times while inside the capsule. 

The Expedition 16S team will be able to communicate with the Mission Control Centre in Moscow whenever the capsule is right above the Russian capital city, which means communication occurs every 90 minutes. 

While Whitson and Malenchencko navigate the spacecraft, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will assist them with the flight instruments. 

As soon as it gets close enough to the ISS, the capsule will manoeuvre to dock. It is expected to take a few orbits for the capsule to make a perfect match and “mate” with the ISS.  

Docking is expected to occur at between 10pm and 2am (Malaysian time) Friday.  

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