Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Russia offers to sell `Soyuz' to Malaysia

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Russia has offered to sell Malaysia the Soyuz craft that carried the first Malaysian astronaut into space, state media reported.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor blasted off on the Russian spacecraft on Oct. 10 and spent nine days at the International Space Station (ISS), in an odyssey linked to the billion-dollar purchase of fighter jets from Russia.

Malaysian Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis said he would submit Russia's offer to the Cabinet, the official Bernama news agency reported late on Monday.

`IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT'

"I received the offer while waiting for Dr Sheikh Muszaphar's return in Russia. We are discussing the matter and if the price is right we can bring it back to Malaysia," he said.

Jamaluddin said it was "a good idea" but the government would have to be sure the public supported the move.

He did not say how much the craft would cost.

CHOOSING MUSZAPHAR

Muszaphar, a 35-year-old doctor and part-time model, was chosen from thousands of hopefuls in a nationwide competition that generated tremendous excitement in Malaysia.

The Malaysian astronaut trained for over a year before taking part on the mission.

He accompanied American Peggy Whitson, the new commander on the ISS, and Russia's Yury Malenchenko on the voyage.

The government is now considering Russia's offer to send a second Malaysian into space in the next two years.

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