MELAKA, Aug 15 (Bernama) — Malaysia needs a clearer vision and a different approach if it intends to carry out the mission to send its second astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS), said the Director of International Science Council’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman.
Mazlan, who is also former Director-General of the National Space Agency, said, for example, the creation of a technology that could be used at the ISS by astronauts of various countries could open up a path for cooperation with the countries involved in carrying out the mission.
“If we want to start the second national astronaut programme, we must know what we want to achieve. If we just want to send a Malaysian or our astronaut to space, we have already done that.
”For the next trip to space, we must have a science or technology programme to enable us to forge cooperation with other countries, and the technology we create can be used for mutual benefit,” she told reporters after the opening ceremony of state-level National Science Week in Melaka today.
The ceremony was graced by Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari and was also attended by Director-General of Malaysian Space Agency Azlikamil Napiah.
Mazlan who is also former Director of the United Nations Office of Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna, said Malaysia could also emulate Canada which had created a robotic arm called Canadarm which is now placed and being utilised at the ISS.
“Canada is just a small country and the budget used to create Canadarm is much lesser than (the technology creation budget of) other superpower countries, but in the end, they succeeded because the technology benefits the space industry,” she said.
In another development, the astrophysicist said that she was optimistic that human can reach the planet Mars in 2035 although the number of the population and how long human beings can live there needed more study.
“To me, the year 2035 is a realistic year for human beings to reach Mars although there is a lot of other estimations such as by Elon Musk who expects the mission to be accomplished by 2024,” she added.
Meanwhile, Adly said that the rebuilding of the Melaka Planetarium is expected to start next year along with other development which would support the functions of the state’s science centre in the future.
He said the project was now awaiting approval for planning from the authorities and it would be developed with cooperation from the private sector.
”We have signed a cooperation agreement with a private entity and we hope that it could be realised so the Melaka Planetarium will not only be a one-stop centre for science and technology, but can also contribute to the state tourism sector,” he said.