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Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor
ANGKASA Astronaut
Status Active
Born July 27, 1972 (1972-07-27) (age 37)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Other occupation Orthopedic Surgeon
Time in space 10d 21h 14m
Selection 2006 Angkasawan program
Missions Soyuz TMA-11, Soyuz TMA-10

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (born Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie bin Sheikh Mustapha on July 27, 1972) is a Malaysian orthopaedic surgeon and was 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 October 10, 2007.[1][2] Sheikh Muszaphar flew under an agreement with Russia through the Angkasawan program, and returned to Earth on October 21, 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10 with the Expedition 15 crew members, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov.[3][4]



Sheikh Muszaphar was born in Kuala Lumpur and attended high school at Maktab Rendah Sains MARA in Muar. He then earned a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India.[5].He was pursuing his Masters of Surgery in Orthopaedic Surgery at University Kebangsaan Malaysia when he joined the 'Angkasawan' program.

Sheikh Muszaphar is an orthopedic surgeon,[6] and a university medical officer in medicine at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.[3][7] In 1998, Sheikh Muszaphar worked at Hospital Seremban, followed by a move to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in 1999, and was on staff at Hospital Selayang from 2000 through 2001.[5] Sheikh Muszaphar is also a part-time model.[8][9][10]

Angkasawan program

Sheikh Muszaphar and three other finalists were selected at the beginning of 2006 for the Malaysian Angkasawan spaceflight program. The program arose after Russia agreed to transport one Malaysian to the ISS as part of a multi-billion purchase of 18 Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter jets by Malaysia. After completing initial training at Star City in Russia, Sheikh Muszaphar and Faiz Khaleed were selected to undergo an 18-month training program in Russia, at the end of which Sheikh Muszaphar was chosen as the prime crew member, while Faiz Khaleed served as back-up.[11] Following the final medical tests and training examinations, on September 17, it was announced that Sheikh Muszaphar would be flying on Soyuz 11.[12]

During a NASA news conference with the Expedition 16 crew on July 23, 2007, and news conferences following his selection, Sheikh Muszaphar said he hoped to be able to take various live cell cultures to study during his flight.[1][13]


Flying as a guest of the Russian government,[14] Sheikh Muszaphar's role aboard Soyuz and the ISS is referred to as a spaceflight participant in English-language Russian Federal Space Agency and NASA documents and press briefings.[4][15][16] [17]

Speaking to Malaysian media outlets, Alexander Karchava, the Russian ambassador to Malaysia, stated that Sheikh Muszaphar is a "fully-fledged cosmonaut".[18] In an interview with the Malaysian Star newspaper, Robert Gibson, a retired NASA astronaut, shared his opinion that Sheikh Muszaphar is fully qualified as an astronaut, and as such, he should be called one. Gibson also said he regarded Sheikh Muszaphar as a peer.[19]


Soyuz TMA-11 carrying Whitson, Malenchenko, and Sheikh Muszaphar, successfully launched at 13:22 UTC, Wednesday, October 10, 2007.[20][21][22]

Space experiments

Sheikh Muszaphar performed experiments on board the International Space Station relating to the characteristics and growth of liver cancer and leukemia cells, the crystallisation of various proteins and microbes in space.[23]

The experiments relating to liver cancer, leukemia cells and microbes will benefit general science and medical research, while the experiments relating to the crystallisation of proteins, lipases in this case, will directly benefit local industries.

Lipase are a type of protein enzymes used in the manufacturing of a diverse range of products from textiles to cosmetics, and the opportunity to grow these in space will mean a possibility for Malaysian scientists to take a crack at an industry worth some USD2.2bil (MYR7.7bil) worldwide by producing these locally.[24]

Spaceflight and religion

Since Sheikh Muszaphar is a Muslim, and as his time in space coincided with the last part of Ramadan, the Islamic National Fatwa Council drew up the first comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space.[1][3] The 18-page guidebook is titled "Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites (Ibadah) at the International Space Station", and details issues such as how to pray in a low-gravity environment, how to locate Mecca from the ISS, how to determine prayer times, and issues surrounding fasting. The orbit of the ISS results in one day/night cycle every 90 minutes,[1][25] so the issues of fasting during Ramadan are also addressed. The guidebook will be translated into Russian, Arabic, and English.[7][26] Anan C. Mohd, from Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development said that fasting while traveling is optional, so Sheikh Muszaphar could choose what he would like to do, but if he did decide to fast in space, the times would be centered around local time in Baikonur, where the launch takes place.[27][28] Sheikh Muszaphar celebrated Eid ul-Fitr aboard the station, and packed some satay and cookies to hand out to the rest of the crew on October 13, 2007 to mark the end of Ramadan.[29]


  • Timeline of space travel by nationality


  1. ^ a b c d The Associated Press (2007). "Malaysian Astronaut Won't Ignore Faith" (in English). The Associated Press / USA Today. Retrieved on October 4, 2007. 
  2. ^ Andrew Hammond (2007). "Saudi prince says Islam proud of Malaysia spaceman" (in English). Reuters. Retrieved on October 4, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c Chris Baldwin (2007). "First Malaysian in space to observe Ramadan later" (in English). Reuters. Retrieved on October 4, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b NASA (July 17, 2007). "NASA Holds Briefing With First Female Station Commander and Crew". NASA. Retrieved on July 23, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (2007). "Angkasawan lands in UKM" (in English). Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ CNN (2007). "First Malaysian in space to observe Ramadan later" (in English). CNN. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b Reuters (2007). "Guidebook issued for Muslims in space" (in English). Reuters. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  8. ^ Daily Express News (2007). "Part-time model is first choice for astronaut" (in English). Daily Express News. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  9. ^ SpaceDaily (2007). "Part-time model is Malaysia's first astronaut" (in English). SpaceDaily. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ AFP (2007). "Malaysians take last tests before blast off into spaceaccessdate=October 7, 2007" (in English). AFP. 
  11. ^ Space Daily (2007). "Malaysia announces first astronaut" (in English). Agence France-Presse. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  12. ^ WIFR - Gray Television Group (2007). "First Malaysian Cosmonaut" (in English). WIFR - Gray Television Group. Retrieved on October 4, 2007. 
  13. ^ BBC News (2007). "Malaysia astronaut set to launch" (in English). BBC News. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  14. ^ Channel News Asia (2007). "Space fever grips Malaysia as launch nears" (in English). Channel News Asia. Retrieved on October 13, 2007. 
  15. ^ NASA (2007). "NASA TV Coverage Set for Space Station Crew Exchange" (in English). NASA. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  16. ^ MSNBC (2007). "Russian tycoon-explorer may go into space" (in English). MSNBC. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  17. ^ Russian Federal Space Agency (2007). "Biography of Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor in Russian Federal Space Agency Website" (in English). Russian Federal Space Agency. Retrieved on October 12, 2007. 
  18. ^ theStar (2007). "Russian envoy confirms that Malaysian is not a ‘mere passenger’" (in English). TheStar. Retrieved on October 4, 2007. 
  19. ^ theStar (2007). "Malaysian a full-fledged cosmonaut, says ex-astronaut" (in English). TheStar. Retrieved on October 11, 2007. 
  20. ^ Sergi Manstov (2007). "Soyuz TMA-11 launches carrying Expedition 16" (in English). NASA Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  21. ^ Jane Ritikos (2007). "First Malaysian in space" (in English). Star Publications (Malaysia). Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  22. ^ Shavkat Rakhmatullayev (2007). "Russian rocket launches first Malaysian into space" (in English). Reuters. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  23. ^ theStar (2007). "Mission in space" (in English). Retrieved on October 13 2007. 
  24. ^ theStar (2007). "Tapping into space research" (in English). TheStar. Retrieved on September 22, 2007. 
  25. ^ NASA (2004). "Day in the Life" (in English). NASA. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  26. ^ Mazwin Nik Anis (2007). "Guidebook for Muslims in space" (in English). Star Publications (Malaysia). Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  27. ^ The Independent Online (2007). "Muslim astronaut to blast off during Ramadan" (in English). The Independent Online. Retrieved on October 7, 2007. 
  28. ^ BBC (2007). "Landmark lift-off for space crew" (in English). BBC News. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 
  29. ^ Reuters (2007). "Astronaut plans first Eid party in space" (in English). Reuters. Retrieved on October 10, 2007. 

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