Monday, April 14, 2008

Cabinet To Discuss Budget To Send Second Astronaut Into Space

(Bernama) KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 -- The cabinet will discuss the budget to sent a second astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said Monday. He said at the moment the government wanted to continue with the programme even though it had not yet allocated a budget for the purpose.

"At the moment, the money for the second phase has not been allocated yet. That's why the government will have to decide on the next plan," he told reporters after visiting the Academy of Sciences Malaysia here Monday.

Ongkili said the government had not responded yet to the Russian government whether to continue with the programme as it needed to study the budget as well as the impact of the first phase of the programme.

He said the government needed about two months to decide on the matter, afterwhich the decision would be conveyed to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos.

Astronaut Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha was chosen to travel to the ISS in the first phase of the programme in October last year.

Major Dr Faiz Khaleed, 26, who underwent training with Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, had been named as the astronaut for the second phase of the mission.

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