Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rocketry Workshop & Space Camp

The Rocketry Workshop and Space Camp were successfully conducted during the school holidays. The workshop was held in Rebung, Bangsar while the space camp was in Bernam River Airfield about 100kms north of Kuala Lumpur. In the end, as long as the kids had fun and learned new stuff our objectives were achieved. Rocket science and astronomy are new subjects for them and I'm glad we are helping them develop their interest in them. Until next time, Happy New Year 2010 and enjoy the pics....

Learning to mix the solid fuel

Harridon showing off the 'ingredients'

Bernam River Airfield

Preparing lunch after our swim

Setting up our equipment in the field

Kids enjoying sports

Software all set up and ready

Enjoying the sunset on the runway

Lets have a race first!!!

Sam in the distance

What is a camp without a campfire?

Group photo after our stargazing session

Ready for an aeroplane ride?

The kids getting a go!!! Wee!!!

Main Building of the Bernam River Airfeld
See you next time!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail,
No. 4-2, Lorong Maarof,
Bangsar Park,
59000 Kuala Lumpur.


The Astronautical Association of
Malaysia (AAM) is organizing a one day
workshop on Rocketry Science. The
workshop aims to promote Rocketry Science
among students aged 9 till 12. The workshop
is divided into 3 sessions. In the first session
the students would learn to produce Solid
Fuel which would fuel the rocket.

For the second session, the students are
taught on how to develop a software to
measure the thrust of the rocket.
Finally in the third session, the students
would ignite the rocket and measure the
thrust produced by the rocket.

Tentative Schedule

The workshop would be held on the 29th of
December 2009 at AAM’s headquarters in
Bangsar where it would be restricted to only
20 students. Fee is RM199 per person and
register by calling 012-2877799 or e-mail

9.30am-10.30am Rocketry Basic & Fuel
10.30am-12pm Developing Solid Fuel
12pm-1pm Lunch
1pm-2.30pm Rocket Software Development
2.30pm-4pm Rocket Ignition & Thrust Measuring
4pm-4.45pm Talk by Captain M. Faiz Kamaludin
4.45pm-5pm Certificate Ceremony

Lecturer’s Profiles

Captain M. Faiz Kamaludin is a Commercial
Pilot for a major airline. Currently flying the
Boeing 777, he is a highly qualified aviator
and had been invited to give talks to
numerous organizations. He holds a
Commercial Pilot License and would receive
his Masters Degree in 2010. Captain Faiz is
also inducted in the Malaysian Astronaut

Inr. Mohd Harridon is an Aerospace
Engineer specializing in Rocketry Science.
He holds a Master Degree in Aerospace
Engineering and would receive his PhD in
January 2010. He is also inducted in the
Malaysian Astronaut Corps.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Angkasawan Programme Opened Up A Host Of Opportunities, Says Ongkili

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 23 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's Angkasawan (Space) programme opened up opportunities between Malaysia and international space agencies to conduct microgravity science experiments in the country, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

He said two agencies offered to share their expertise with Malaysia, namely the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Federal Space Agency of Russia (ROSCOSMOS).

"In the Angkasawan programme in 2007, two experiments on the crystallization of proteins were successful, resulting in patent and trademark applications.

"Following this success, we are now collaborating with the Japanese on utilisation of high quality growth experiments," he told reporters when met at the Second Workshop on Microgravity Sciences here Monday.

According to Ongkili, the collaboration would span over three years an entailed sending 24 enzymes and proteins to be crystallized in space.

On the collaboration with ROSCOSMOS, Ongkili said Malaysian scientists would be able to conduct microgravity experiments in space using the Bio-Satellite Programme under the Institute of Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) of Russia.

He also urged the National Space Agency (Angkasa) and the National Biotechnology Division (Biotek) to undertake microgravity research as an important development programme under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, which would then be tied-up with Malaysia's second Angkasawan programme in the next five years.

"But the second mission has to be significantly different from the first one in terms of bringing direct benefits to the country's economy," he added.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Second Mission

AS Malaysia’s first astronaut, Angkasawan Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Al-Masrie Shukor has become a national hero, as well as a poster boy of sorts for the National Space Agency (Angkasa), under the auspices of the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti). His dashing good looks and charming personality have endeared him to the public, and generated much interest in the country’s efforts towards becoming one of the elite group of countries to have made it to space.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, however, is not simply a talking head for Malaysia’s space programme. While very supportive of the endeavour, he is quite vocal when pointing out what he perceives as its flaws.

What disappoints him is a lack of follow-through after his return from his mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

“I believe Mosti should do more for the space programme. It’s not just about training astronauts; there also needs to be efforts to unite aerospace engineers, who are mostly working in other industries now,” he says.

“Mosti should also have a vision, a blueprint. Look at South Korea, they went up after me (Korean Yi So-yeon was sent to the ISS in April 2008), but they already have a second phase programme.”

While declining to comment on Dr Sheikh Muszaphar’s statements, Angkasa’s director-general Dr Mustafa Din Subari shared in a phone interview that a second space mission is already in the planning stages, to be implemented within the next five years.

Currently in talks with the Russians and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), Angkasa is planning to send Mejar Dr Faiz Khaleed, who served as Dr Sheikh Muszaphar’s back-up in the first mission, to the ISS.

“The first mission was very significant because it was the first opportunity to send a Malaysian into space. That in itself put Malaysia on the map. (We think) that the second mission should be even more significant, by making it a longer stay, and emphasising much more on scientific experiments,” explains Dr Mustafa, adding that they are targeting a four to six-month stay aboard the ISS for Dr Faiz.

While Dr Sheikh Muszaphar’s mission was funded by the government-to-government offset agreement with Russia, Dr Mustafa says the next trip into space will be financed by the Malaysian government.

He further says that the results of the five experiments Dr Sheikh Muszaphar carried out in space will be disclosed later this month at a workshop being held in Kota Kinabalu.

“We have been reaching out to several schools a week since the space mission, with the aim of creating awareness (on the programme). We also launched a coffee-table book last month that details the first mission (from beginning to end),” he says.

Greater awareness

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, however, does not believe Malaysia is ready to send another astronaut into space in the near future.

“Not only is it extremely expensive, about US$30mil (RM101mil) for 12 days, but Mosti must have an objective for the mission. They should study exactly what they want to do (on this mission),” he says. “However, I do hope the next mission, when it happens, is better than mine.”

Having parted ways with Mosti to rejoin Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where he has previously both studied and lectured, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is not part of the ministry’s recently started Malaysia Astronaut Foundation.

Instead, he says he is forming an independent association with the 51 other candidates who were shortlisted for the Angkasawan programme. The association will work on educating and creating awareness on science and space exploration.

“I get frustrated when things are not moving along (with the space programme),” admits Dr Sheikh Muszaphar. “I believe whoever conquers space will conquer the world.”

by Sharmilla Ganesan

The Star Online

16th November 2009

Sharing Space

Malaysia’s Angkasawan may be settling down, but that won’t diminish his passion for space travel.

TWO years after he became the first Malaysian to be sent into space, Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Al-Masrie Shukor is set to embark on an adventure of a different kind.

Engaged to Dr Halina Mohd Yunos, his sweetheart of eight years, the Angkasawan will tie the knot next year – and he is looking forward to family life.

Lovebirds: Angkasawan Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Al-Masrie Shukor and his fiancee
Dr Halina Mohd Yunos will finally tie the knot next year. – SAMUEL ONG/The Star

“I think it’s about time I settled down,” he shares during an interview at his recently-launched clinic in Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. “I’m going to be 38 next year, and I’ve always been a family man.”

Dr Halina, 28, laughs when asked if she’s glad they are finally getting hitched. “It’s always been part of the plan, he (Dr Sheikh Muszaphar) just had many other things to do first. He’s very focused and ambitious, and that makes me very proud,” she says.

When asked how she first met Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, Dr Halina, who is from Kluang, Johor, reveals it was when she was a medical student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and he was her lecturer.

“It’s a little embarrassing, really!” she laughs. “You’re not supposed to have these so-called ‘sparks’ with your teacher!”

As for what it’s like to be with Malaysia’s first astronaut, she cheekily says she’s heard all his stories a thousand times. “But being in space is an amazing thing, and not everyone has the chance to experience it. Being close to him is probably the next best thing for me!”

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar at his clinic in Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

Don’t expect marriage to slow Dr Sheikh Muszaphar down, however. “There will be no such thing as taking a break,” he stresses. “There is a lot of work to be done, and getting married isn’t going to change my passion for my work.”

Out of this world

Launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Soyuz TMA-11 on Oct 10, 2007, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar spent 12 days in space, fulfilling a dream he had held since the age of 10.

“It still feels like yesterday that I was (out in space); even now, I still dream about it,” he says. “The experience was out of this world, literally speaking!”

It definitely wasn’t a bed of roses, however. As part of his training in Russia, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar had to endure temperatures as low as -45°C in Siberia, sit in a spinning chair for 25 minutes every day, and prepare for microgravity environments by floating in the Black Sea for three days. And that was just the initial part of his adventure!

In the space station itself, where being in microgravity caused him to float, even the simplest daily task was a challenge.

“It’s a completely different environment, and you have to re-learn how to do all the simple things you take for granted,” he says. “For example, your taste buds change. Although the food we had was regular food that was freeze-dried and vacuum-packed, (sometimes) what you like on Earth will not be the same in space. I love mashed potatoes, but I did not like the taste of it up there at all.”

As for drinking fluids, it all has to be done through a straw, as liquids separate into little globules that can damage equipment if they are left floating around.

Even going to bed was a tricky exercise, as the astronauts slept floating, while tied to a sleeping bag. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar recalls how he forgot to tie himself one night, and woke up floating freely around the cabin.

Showers were a luxury he had to do without, as water was very limited. “We used wet wipes to clean ourselves, and when we shampoo our hair, we just wipe out the suds instead of rinsing,” he explains. “And when you brush your teeth, you swallow instead of spitting out.”

Of course, the worst was probably having to answer nature’s call. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar describes how one has to make sure he is fixed in a stable position, and then use a funnel with vacuum suction to “go” in. The bodily wastes are then ejected into the atmosphere, where they burn and disintegrate. “I hated going to the toilet in space, it was very uncomfortable!” he laughs.

The discomforts did not end after the stay at ISS. Upon returning to Earth, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar had to be quarantined, and poked and prodded by a team of doctors.

“Your body goes through many changes in space; your muscles become atrophied, and your bones become brittle. When I first got back, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even lift my hand! We had to go through many, many tests, especially for radiation exposure,” he says, adding that one day in space exposes a person to radiation equivalent to five chest X-rays.

“But if you ask me if I’d go through all of it again, I’d definitely say yes. This is my passion, and I’d do anything to go into space!” says the cosmonaut, whose book on his time in space, My Journey Into Space, will be released next month.

The future beckons

Since returning, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar has thrown himself into creating more awareness about space travel, and science in general. Over the past two years, he has been travelling around the country giving talks on his experiences, particularly in schools.

“The euphoria among the students (about my expedition) is still there. They all want to become astronauts!” he says. “What I tell them is that the chances of becoming an astronaut are not very big, as only very few are lucky enough to be selected. Instead, I encourage them to take up science, to become doctors, scientists, aerospace engineers.”

Having parted ways with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry earlier this year, the doctor has been revisiting his beginnings.

Besides his new clinic, which offers free treatment to several orphanages in Kuala Lumpur, he has also rejoined Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where he did his master’s in Orthopaedic Surgery. He is currently involved with the university’s Institute of Space Science, where he is hoping to prepare teaching modules that can be taught to students next year.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is also in the midst of forming a scholarship programme with the Allianze College of Medical Sciences, due to kick off next year, to sponsor 200 students in the study of science. For younger enthusiasts, he is hoping to kick off a space museum that holds regular space camps.

He has big plans involving other astronauts from around the world as well, starting by bringing 100 of them to Malaysia next year.

“My plan is to send them all over the country to talk to students, to catalyse a deep interest in science,” he says.

Furthering his interest in Islam and space travel, he also hopes to form an Islamic space agency, uniting the eight other Muslim astronauts from countries like Iran, Syria and Kazakhstan.

All this seems like quite a lot for someone who will soon be juggling his work demands and a wife. But Dr Sheikh Muszaphar isn’t fazed in the slightest.

“Many people come back from space feeling different; some become very spiritual, and some even get depressed. Me, I’ve gained an appreciation of our time on Earth. We need to look at the big picture and live life to the fullest,” he says.

by Sharmilla Ganesan
The Star Online
16th November 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taklimat Angkasa oleh Vanajah di Lawas, Sarawak

Vanajah di atas pentas

Simposium "Public Understanding of Science and Technology (PUSAT) 2009" Lawas, Sarawak.
24hb & 25hb Oktober 2009: Persatuan Ahli-ahli Sains Malaysia telah menganjurkan PUSAT 2009 di Lawas, Sarawak. Dari segi geografi, Lawas terputus dari sistem jalanraya negeri Sarawak. Ia bersambung dengan Kota Kinablau, Sabah melalui jalan dalaman yang mengambil masa lebih kurang 3 jam dengan menaiki kereta (110 km jaraknya).

SMK Merapok, Lawas

Vanajah telah menyampaikan taklimatnya di SMK Merapok, Lawas. Para hadirin terdiri daripada murid-murid sekolah menengah, guru-guru sekolah dan pegawai kerajaan. Beliau menyampaikan taklimat mengenai proses pemilihan program Angkasawan Negara. Para hadirin teruja mendengar pengalaman Vanajah sepanjang program itu terutama sekali apabila beliau menjalani saringan di Rusia. Ia merupakan suatu pencapaian yang menakjubkan oleh seorang wanita untuk berjaya menjadi antara empat calon terbaik program Angkawasan Negara. Taklimat beliau telah memberi inspirasi kepada genarasi muda yang hadir sekaligus berjaya memupuk semangat jati diri mereka.

Para hadirin

Vanajah menceritakan pengalaman beliau

Seorang ikon Malaysia...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Space talk by Vanajah in Lawas, Sarawak

Vanajah on stage

Symposium on "Public Understanding of Science & Technology (PUSAT) 2009" in Lawas, Sarawak

24th & 25th October 2009: The Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA) organized this year's PUSAT in Lawas, Sarawak. Lawas, by virtue of its geographical location, is cut off from the rest of Sarawak's road network. It is however linked by a trunk road to Sabah, which takes approximately 3 hours from Kota Kinabalu (110 kms).

SMK Merapok, Lawas

Vanajah's talk was held at the SMK Merapok, Lawas. The audience consists of secondary school students, schoolteachers, educators and government personnel. She gave a presentation about the selection process of the Angkaswan programme. The students and audience were thrilled to hear about her experience throughout the programme especially on her spaceflight medical evaluation in Russia. Indeed it was an amazing feat for a woman to be one of Malaysia's top 4 astronaut candidates of the space programme. Her stories not only inspired them to reach for their dreams but also gave them a sense of belief that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.

The audience

Vanajah explaining about the space programme

It was a great weekend in Lawas, and Vanajah Siva we salute you...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gerhana Matahari Penuh di Yangshanzhen

Sebelum gerhana penuh

22hb Julai 2009, Pulau Yanshanzhen, China

Saya telah menyertai rombongan sains yang diketuai oleh En. Sam Gibbs (Aerospace Edu) dan Dr. Chong Hon Yew (USM). Misi kami ialah untuk menyaksikan gerhana matahari penuh yang terpanjang di dalam abad ini, kejadian yang serupa hanya akan diulangi pada tahun 2132. Pulau Yangshanzhen yang berkedudukan di bahagian selatan kotaraya Shanghai terletak tepat pada garisan laluan gerhana matahari yang akan memberikan kegelapan 'totality' selama 6 minit. Pagi itu cuaca agak mendung tetapi kami tetap memasangkan peralatan kami di atas kawasan bumbung Hotel Yangshan. Gerhana bermula pada pukul 830 pagi tetapi awan tebal tidak memberi sebarang ruang untuk kami melihat matahari. Kami sabar menunggu dan kadangkala ia muncul dari belakang awan untuk kami menyaksikan kehebatannya. Sememangnya ia merupakan kejadian yang amat menakjubkan. Teleskop, kamera dan alat 'video cam' digunakan untuk merakamkan peristiwa yang bersejarah ini. Sebelum terjadinya gerhana penuh kami dapat melihat bayang-bayang bulan menghampiri lokasi kami dari bahagian barat. Dengan tiba-tiba kegelapan melanda kami. Siang menjadi malam. Kejadian ini amat ganjil dan saya berasa terharu mengalami fenomena ini. Keadaan di sekeliling kami gelap-gelita, cuma kelihatan cahaya merah yang pudar di sebelah utara di kawasan bukit-bukau. 6 minit berlalu dengan cukup pantas sebelum siang kembali. Ia merupakan pengalaman yang paling menakjubkan dan saya berharap berpeluang untuk menyaksikannya sekali lagi dengan harapan saya lebih bersedia menghadapinya....



Kawasan bumbung Hotel Yangshan

Jalan utama

Bukit-bukau Yangshan

Video cam saya

Joanne dan Mildred dari UK

Dr. Chong dari USM

Masdiana dari USM

Mazlina dari USM

Dr. Chong memberi taklimat

Gin Seng peserta termuda kami dari Aerospace Edu

Jonathan dari USM

Semua orang tengah sibuk

Gerhana matahari dilihat dengan mata kasar

Ben dari Pulau Pinang

Dapat apa-apa tak?

Menunggu untuk kemuncak gerhana matahari

Bersama Sam

Selepas totality

Sam dan peralatannya...