Malaysia's Angkasawan Aspires To Return To ISS As Commander
"I have been telling myself that I want to return to the ISS for six months and hoping that it will be as its commander. God willing, I will prove that I can do it," he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama's Radio 24 today.
He said that his success in completing the space mission proved he was serious in wanting to fulfill his responsibilities as a Malaysian. He said that he now felt free after having successfully fulfilled the huge responsibilities entrusted on him. "I realised it was a huge responsibility for me and I am very grateful for having performed it well," he said in the interview from the post-space mission quarantine centre in Star City, Moscow.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be at the quarantine centre for between 10 days and two weeks for health monitoring before he can be allowed to come home. He, however, is very grateful that throughout the space mission, he did not have any health problems and attributed his healthy condition to the Malaysians who prayed for him.
On the challenges facing him during the mission, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said the biggest challenge was to carry out the experiments which had been entrusted on him. "I realised the experiments like the one of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was crucial because the scientists had worked very hard for two years on it ... and I did the best possible," he added.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar also said that he took the space mission seriously and not for fun. "It was not for fun or merely to travel to space. To me, it was crucial to show the whole world that we, Malaysians, are capable of doing things like this," he said.
He said that he also felt elated and proud to be given the trust by the European Space Agency (ESA) to repair its equipment at the ISS.
"It was indeed a great honour that the ESA placed its trust in a Malaysian angkasawan to do the job," said the orthopaedic surgeon. In the interview, which lasted for almost an hour, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was also asked on NASA's action in not recognising him as an angkasawan but only as a space flight participant.
"To me, regardless whether NASA called me a space flight participant or by any other name, what is important is that I'm recognised as an angkasawan by all Malaysians.
"Likewise the Russians, they recognised me as a Cosmonaut Researcher. This is important because I did the training with them and only they know what we (he and Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed (Malaysia's back up angkasawan) went through and how serious we were to accomplish the mission," he said.
He, however, said that the training they went through was different than the one required by space tourists, whose training was only for six months.
"Perhaps, I should also prove to them (NASA) that I am capable of doing the best. Hopefully, after this I will get to go to space longer, perhaps six months and be given the opportunity to work with NASA and to prove to them that we are as good their astronauts," he said.
Meanwhile, recalling the experience during landing in the Soyuz TMA-10 capsule, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said he felt difficulty breathing and his chest felt like an elephant stepping on it. "It felt like an elephant stepping on your chest... it pressed on your chest so hard that you felt like you were not able to breathe and uncomfortable. But we had been taught to breathe through our abdomen and release the air through the chest, the training saved us," he added.
During the interview, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar also took the opportunity to thank all Malaysians for their prayers and hoped Malaysia would produce more angkasawan and scientists in future. He also hoped that Malaysia would make further inroads in aerospace development and produce its own rocket for a space mission. (Bernama)
***** Syabas Dr Muszaphar. May your successfully completed mission be the beginning of a new era in Malaysia's space journey. Ignore the envious ones who tried to find fault every step of the way and pathetically attempted to belittle the entire space trip.
True, that the circumstances surrounding the conception of our space programme, especially the defence deal with Russia regarding the purchase of MIG fighter jets, leaves many questions unanswered. But that has nothing to do with you or future angkasawans. You now serve as a shining example of what we can achieve and will be an inspiration for those determined to excel.
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