Author`s name Pravda.Ru

First Malaysian astronaut to undergo training in Russia?

Malaysia's National Space Agency (NSA) is expected to discuss with Russia selection criteria for the first Malaysian astronauts, Bernama news agency quoted Dr Mazlan Osman, NSA General Director, as saying in Kuala Lumpur.

Ms Mazlan Osman said she would discuss the issue with the Rosaviakosmos aerospace agency next month when she would be visiting Russia. Malaysia will make the final decision. However, Russia will help it select candidates, according to Ms Osman.

Under Malaysia's national space programme, which is worth $25 million, Russia is expected to train two Malaysian astronauts and send one of them to the International Space Station in 2007.

Over 8,000 Malaysians have applied for astronauts. However, only 50 of them will have an interview that will select the astronauts and their backups.

Malaysia wants its national to conduct experiments in space medicine, biology and physics.

The Russian delegation to this year's DSA 2004 air show proposed new areas of space cooperation to Malaysia. The NSA is, for example, considering launching telecommunications satellites on Russian boosters. In September 2000, a Russian booster took Malaysia's first micro research satellite into orbit.