Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Angkasawan selection process - brains or brawn?

Amidst all the fluff articles in the press hyping up Malaysia's first SFP - space flight participant (even Malaysiakini is not immune to publishing candy floss, see: Space fever grips M'sia as launch nears ??? apart from the press and politicians, who's feverish?), I happened to spot this article on Bernama's website. It lists chronologically how the SFP was selected.

OK, is it just me or does the selection process seem overwhelmingly skewed towards making sure that our SFP doesn't pass out from the physical stresses of space flight, rather than actually turn him into a contributing member of the crew?

I'm pretty sure the chimps they sent to space in the 60s-80s were selected in a similar manner, no?

And here's a superb cartoon that makes a point like no one else except Lat can. This came out some time back, but it just shows that Lat has some amazing foresight into how things tend to turn out the Malaysia-boleh way.

Read also:
Our Malaysian Astrocannot.
Astrocannot is also Cosmocannot
Outer Space - The Final Frontier for Malaysia Bodoh... oops Boleh.

How Malaysia Picks Its First Angkasawan

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 (Bernama) -- Below is the chronology of events leading to the blast off of Malaysia's first angkasawan (cosmonaut) into space:

Aug 5 2003: Malaysia signed a contract to procure 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter jets from Russia under a package deal worth about US$900 million. The aircraft are to be delivered in stages between June 2006 and end of 2007. The payment for the aircraft will be stretched until 2009. In return, Russia will purchase Malaysia's palm oil, provide transfer of space technology, and train a Malaysian to become Malaysia's first angkasawan.

Oct 2003: Over 11,000 applicants registered online to become Malaysia's first angkasawan. Application requirements included being above 21 years old, a degree holder or a professional pilot.

Aug 27-Sept 3 2005: 894 candidates shortlisted but only 435 took part in the fitness test starting with a 3.5km run which must be completed within 20 minutes. 199 made it through. Of the figure, 194 underwent the basic medical examination based on National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Programme Criteria. 59 passed.

Sept 25-30 2005: First aeromedical test which included blood, nose and ear checks, X-ray, and electrocardiogram (ECG). 59 were tested, 27 passed.

Jan 16-21 2006: Second aeromedical test, including bone, air passage and centrifuge tests. 27 were tested, 18 passed.

Jan 16-24 2006: Overall assessment based on performance in 3.5km run and second aeromedical test as well as psychiatric, psychology, land and sea survival and technical competence. 10 were tested, 8 passed.

Jan 25-26 2006: Medical examination (including CT Scan, endoscopy and blood analysis). 10 were tested, 8 passed.

Feb 9 2006: Eight qualified candidates interviewed by selection panel at Shangri-La Hotel, Putrajaya. Overall assessment based on performance in all the events covering all aspects in communication, character, forwardness and determination.

Four were selected to be sent to Moscow for further medical examination:

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha, 34, orthopaedic surgeon;

Vanajah Siva, 35, senior quality engineer;

Dr Faiz Khaleed, 26, Armed Forces dental surgeon; and

Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin, 34, Malaysia Airlines pilot

March 2006: The four candidates underwent medical examination in Russia including neurology (brain) and body adaptation in microgravity environment.

Sept 4 2006: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi named Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha and Dr Faiz Khaleed as the final two candidates at the KL International Airport.

Sept 2006-Sept 2007: The two were sent to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Moscow and then to NASA in Houston, Texas, for training. One will be selected to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) while the other is his back-up.

Sept 24 2007: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar and Dr Faiz Khaleed passed the test and recognised as cosmonauts.

Oct 9 2007: Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis announced in Baikonur that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be the first Malaysian angkasawan to blast off to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Oct 10 2007: Dr Sheikh Muszaphar together with a Russian and an American cosmonauts to blast off to the ISS.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bro!!

Luckily we send a MUSLIM Orthopedic specialist to the ISS, not a mumbling blog writer like you!

sean-the-man said...

Malaysians will be even 'luckier' still if we didn't send anyone at all.

MUSLIM? Because he was or in spite of being so?

I mumble... really? Ramble, maybe... but mumble?... cannot be.

Ed said...

One small step for Dr SMS, one big step for M'sia's bragging power against S'pore. Hey, we MUST do everything sooner than them, don't we? KLIA, LCCT, etc.