People’s Daily Online dated October 11, 2007
(Peoples’s Daily Online is a China online newspaper url: http://english.people.com.cn)
Malaysia filled with excitement for its first astronaut
url : http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90851/6280963.html
As Malaysia's first astronaut headed for outer space on Wednesday, the whole nation was abuzz with excitement over the historic flight.
Malaysia's orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustafa, 35, blasted off Wednesday evening from
the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, the same launch site for the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.
The astronaut, selected from more than 10,000 candidates, blasted off with Commander Peggy Whitson of the United States and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko on board a Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft.
In Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC), Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lead more than 1,800 people, including 500 school children, to witness the first astronaut's flight to space.
In Independence Square, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian people crowded to watch the launch on the giant screen.
Even in restaurants, the dinners' eyes were glued to the TV screen as they had their meals.
The King, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and the queen, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah congratulated Sheikh Muszaphar for being the first Malaysian to go on a space mission.
"This is a historic occasion for all Malaysia, especially when the country had just celebrated its 50th anniversary recently," the King said in his special address at the Istana Negara on Wednesday.
Malaysians now "stand a few inches taller," said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak after the first astronaut was lifted off on Wednesday.
"We must do what we can as a small country but with big ambitions," Najib added.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is recovering from coronary bypass and wound debridement surgeries, also watched the live telecast of the launch.
"What he will share with the people will be a source of inspiration for the coming generations," Mahathir said in a statement.
Many local blogs and websites posted news of the event as well as messages of congratulations and good wishes for the first Malaysian astronaut.
Dr Ezura, a colleague of Sheikh Muszaphar, wrote in his blog that "I am so proud and glad that he is from the medical profession."
"I hope it will inspire our children and youth, especially the younger generation to achieve similar things," A. S. Kasah, who comes from eastern state of Sabah, wrote in his blog.
Malaysia's first astronaut will be kept busy doing work for three space agencies during his 10-day sojourn in space.
He would conduct experiments on tropical disease microbes for Malaysia, eyesight and muscles research for the Europe Space Agency, tests on the effects of radiation in space for the Japanese Space Agency.
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