Dato Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor shared his story on being the first Malaysian “Angkasawan” and his journey into space at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.
Dr Sheikh’s space travel talk, co-organised by GED Enterprise and UBD, was aimed at encouraging more Bruneians to take an interest in space science. He entertained the predominantly female crowd, and walked around the stage instead of talking from a fixed position.
He touched on many of the difficulties he faced when eating, drinking, sleeping and “praying in space”, a topic of much debate among Muslim scholars across the globe.
He said a Muslim is required to pray five times a day. Each prayer is performed at a certain defined hour.
The challenge is how to tell what time it is in a shuttle or space station that orbited the earth 16 times every 24 hours.
It means he has to pray 80 times a day, as the sun rises and sets every 45 minutes. The solution is to adhere to the prayer times in Russia from where they had launched.
He talked about how hectic it was onboard the ISS for 10 days, when he conducted experiments on cancer cells,bacteria, protein crystallisation and tropical disease microbes.
The experiments would benefit medical research . They are related to studies on the growth of liver cancer and leukaemia cell in the hope of finding a cure for cancer and osteoporosis.
“Reaching for the stars” a book authored by Dr Sheikh’s brother Sheikh Mustapha Shukor Al-Masrie, was made available at the Chancellor’s Hall.
It is a memoir revealing a brother’s love and admiration for his elder brother the ‘Angkasawan’ – a Malaysian hero.
The guest of honour was Dato Paduka Dr Hj Ismail Hj Duraman, UBD Vice-Chancellor.
Dr Sheikh, who has conducted motivational talks at over 200 schools and universities around Malaysia, will be in Brunei Darussalam until July 27.
He is a guest of the Knowledge Convention (Majlis llmu) to be held at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.
The next lecture, jointly sponsored by TAIB and Brunei Shell Marketing, will be on July 26 and July 27 at the Knowledge Convention in ICC.
Dr Sheikh was part of ‘The Angkasawan’ programme initiatiated by the Malaysian government to send a Malaysian to the International Space Station (ISS) on board Soyuz TMA-11. The programme was named after the Malay word for astronaut, ‘Angkasawan’.
He said the main objectives of the angkasawan programme are to increase interest in science and technology among young Malaysians,to inspire them and motivate them to dream the impossible while inculcating interest in space and space travel among school-going children.He hopes to be the catalyst for change in the mind of young Malaysians.
“What the mind believes the body can achieve,” he said when asked what got him through the tough times and brought him to where he is now in life.
Dato Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (born Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al-Masrie bin Sheikh Mustapha on July 27, 1972), an orthopaedic surgeon, is the first Malaysian to go into space. He was launched to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 with the Expedition 16 crew on Oct 10, 2007.
Sheikh Muszaphar flew under an agreement with Russia and returned to earth on Oct 21, 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10 with the Expedition 15 crew members, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov, after nine days aboard the station.