FIVE YEARS AGO on this day (10 October 2007), Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor became the first Malaysian to go to space. He travelled in the Russian Soyuz-FG rocket (with crewmates American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko) that blasted off from the launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 5:22pm Moscow time (9:22pm Malaysian time) heading to the International Space Station.
That Wednesday afternoon, I was in our Moscow home with my daughter and our German neighbour Kathrin and her 3-year old daughter Carolin; all eyes on the TV, watching the launch and praying that all went well.
I continued watching all night long, with various news channels repeating the news throughout the hours. After all, this was not a daily occurrence!
It was indeed a proud day for all Malaysians. Perhaps this date will be officially called Angkasawan Day, just as Russia has Cosmonautics Day on 12 April to commemorate Yuri Gagarin’s first ever manned flight to space in 1961.
Some memorable moments with Angkasawan Dr. Sheikh and Dr. Faiz Khaleed…
Happy Angkasawan Day!
My previous encounters with astronauts:
1. Meeting the First Muslim Astronaut (1993)