Now Reading
Plans Underway To Send Malaysia’s First Woman Astronaut To ISS In 2030, Says Sheikh Muszaphar

Plans Underway To Send Malaysia’s First Woman Astronaut To ISS In 2030, Says Sheikh Muszaphar

The plan to send Malaysia’s first angkasawati or woman astronaut reminds people of Vanajah Siva, who almost became an astronaut under the Angkasawan programme.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel or follow us on the Lumi News app for the latest stories and updates.

The nation’s first astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor recently mentioned sending Malaysia’s first ‘angkasawati’ or woman astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2030.

He said the initiative under the Malaysian National Space Agency’s blueprint will begin the round of selection in 2025 or 2026.

The blueprint is to search for the angkasawati, for a woman (astronaut) this time and I do hope it will come from Sarawak.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said this after his talk at the Museum of The Moon Exhibition at Borneo Cultures Museum on 22 June.

In 2013, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) was expected to deploy a second batch of astronauts to carry out numerous research work on the ISS by 2016.

During Sheikh Muszaphar’s trip to the ISS with the Expedition 16 crew on 10 October 2007, he researched the characteristics and growth of liver cancer and leukaemia cells, and the crystallisation of various proteins and microbes in space.

According to New Straits Times, the experiments relating to liver cancer, leukaemia cells and microbes would benefit science and medical research in general.

Meanwhile, the experiments relating to the crystallisation of proteins would benefit local industries.

Netizens say it’s a waste of resources

Netizens weren’t too keen to send another Malaysian astronaut to space, citing that it would be a waste of money.

They also did not see the fruits of his research aboard the space station. They mostly remember Sheikh Muszaphar releasing a parenting book and allegedly promoting random products after his return to Earth.

A netizen was more amicable and said the programme could be deferred until the country has constant revenue to send people to space.

Malaysia almost had a woman astronaut

The conversation also reminded people that Malaysia almost had a woman astronaut.

Kulim-born Vanajah Siva was the only woman out of more than 11,000 applicants shortlisted for the final 18 of the Angkasawan spaceflight training programme.

She made it to the final four before Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was selected as the Malaysian cosmonaut-researcher to join the Russian Soyuz TMA-11 mission on 10 October 2007.

The final four from the Angkasawan programme: engineer Vanajah Siva, dentist Faiz Khaleed, doctor Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor and pilot Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin.

Before applying for the Angkasawan programme, Vanajah was working as a quality engineer at Teknion Furniture Systems in Klang.

She tendered her resignation at Teknion as her schedule in the Angkasawan programme was packed and planned by Angkasa.

During those months, she was under the payroll of a large organisation in Malaysia.

After the Angkasawan programme, she was without a job but Angkasa offered her an entry-level position that paid RM1,500 per month, which she declined.

She worked as a quality engineer at Alstom Power in January 2007. In that same period, she reapplied to do her master’s in Industrial Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden and was accepted.

Vanajah Siva. Image: Vanajah Siva/FB

She managed to get a scholarship under MEASAT which came with a three-year employment contract.

Upon graduation in August 2009, she joined MEASAT as an assistant manager for a year. In December 2010, she was accepted for a PhD position at Chalmers which she began in January 2011.

After completing her PhD in January 2016, she was jobless for four months. After doing a lot of job interviews and travelling, she was offered the post-doctoral position at Trinity College Dublin.

In 2017, she interviewed for the position of assistant professor at Jonkoping University, Sweden, and got accepted the same year.

According to a 2020 interview with Varnam, Vanajah worked as a Program Manager for the 3-year Bachelor’s programme called Sustainable Supply Chain Management, in which she taught two courses at Jonkoping University.

She also taught in the Masters’s programme and supervised and examined theses.

The research project she was involved in pertains to automated quality inspection in the manufacturing industry.

Her aim was to study the effects of automation on social sustainability. In simplest terms, she investigates how such as transformation (using artificial intelligence to detect quality defects in a production line) affects human employees.

Other than teaching and conducting research, she was also part of the management team in her department.

In another interview with Malaysiakini, Vanajah admitted that she’s not the kind to settle.

I will go where my job or my dream takes me. I’ve never understood the concept of settling, it sounds mundane to me.

Vanajah Siva

Share your thoughts with us via TRP’s FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Get more stories like this to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.

© 2024 The Rakyat Post. All Rights Reserved. Owned by 3rd Wave Media Sdn Bhd