Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Submission in Space

A Russian booster rocket has lifted off from Kazakhstan today, and will carry a Malaysian orthopedic surgeon into orbit:

A Russian rocket blasted off from a launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, carrying an American, a Russian and a Malaysian to the international space station.

The Soyuz-FG rocket soared into a darkening sky above the Kazakh steppe.

Aboard were Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield, Iowa, who will be the first woman to command the space station, veteran Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, and Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the ninth Muslim in space but the first from Malaysia. They will arrive in two days.

Dr. Shukor’s mission at the space station presents special problems, not only because he is a Muslim, but also because he will be in space during the holy month of Ramadan. To conform properly to his dietary restrictions and other rituals will require some tricky calculations, procedures which are not necessary for most Muslims.

Fortunately for Dr. Shukor, a special guidebook has been prepared by Islamic theologians to instruct him about his behavior in space:

Space camelMalaysia has come up with the world’s first comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space as its first astronaut prepares to go into orbit next week.

The book, entitled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, teaches the Muslim astronaut how to perform ablutions, determine the location of Mecca when praying, prayer times, and how to fast in space, the Star newspaper reported on Saturday.
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“The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space,” Abdullah Md Zin, a minister for religious affairs, was quoted as saying.

The 18-page guidebook will be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and possibly more languages for the benefit of future Muslim astronauts, he said.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopaedic surgeon and university lecturer from Kuala Lumpur, will leave Earth from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur launchpad for Russia’s International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Malaysian has said he will try to observe as much of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in orbit as possible. The lunar month, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is due to end around October 13.

An interesting side note about Dr. Shukor’s trip into orbit concerns the deal that Malaysia had to cut in order to get him aboard the spacecraft:

The $25 million agreement for a Malaysian astronaut to fly to space was negotiated in 2003 along with a $900 million deal for Malaysia to buy 18 Russian fighter jets.

So the Russians get the big bucks, the Malaysians get some cool planes, a Muslim doctor goes into orbit, and everybody’s happy.


Hat tip: LN.

17 comments:

kepiblanc said...

Lessee now....Space station going around the globe 15 times per 24 hours means 15 sunrises times 5 = 75 prayers towards Mecca. So if they attach a generator to the Muslim while he's revolving towards Mecca they can dump the solar panels. Islam at work, for a change...

Gabe said...

Is the photo supposed to be Mo-dog in space?

Dymphna said...

It's a Mo-camel.

ZionistYoungster said...

Where's that pic from? It's hilarious!

Now all he needs is a space-sheep to slaughter for Eid el-Adha.

And a space-goat for company.

ENGLISHMAN said...

Let us hope that he remains weightless for if he were to stand he would instantly lay claim to it being muslim land,they are insufferable down here on earth ,do we really have to have them in space as well.It proves that they will persue us with war wherever we go until we are completely destroyed.We should wait no longer!

spackle said...

This is hilarious. The first thing I thought of when reading "Muslims in space" was some announcer with a booming voice from a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie saying:

"Muslims in spaaaaace!!"

The comedic possibilities here are endless folks. Pure comedy gold. Where is Mel Brooks when you need him.

Suze said...

Are you sure he's not heading out there to blow it up? Or could it be something more sinister?

anon said...

An amusing Malaysian perspective on the country's first glorified space tourist can be found here.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Was he checked before boarding, to ensure he wasn't carrying box cutters, shampoo or any other sort of liquid? Did they make him take off his shoes to ensure he didn't have explosives in the heels?

Or would that be too politically incorrect?

Baron Bodissey said...

ZY --

It's taken from the cover of Moonmadness, the fourth album put out by the British progressive rock band Camel, released (I think) in 1976.

Robohobo said...

"Mo-doggies In Space!"

Woof, woof, woof!

Sounds much better than Mo-camels.

Profitsbeard said...

Such spaced-out knuckleheads shouldn't be alowed into space.

The contradictions might cause a black hole to spontaneously form.

They have enough zero gravity between the ears already.

Subvet said...

So how will his Muslim beliefs square with the fact that the station commander is a woman, therefore his superior in the chain of command?

Maybe he'll flat refuse to obey any orders. Could lead to this scenario;

Commander Whitson: "Hey Doc, suit up we've got an air leak in here."

Dr. Shukor: "You are an inferior creature, therefore my religion requires I not obey you."

Commander Whitson: "Fine, suck vacuum fool!"

Dr. Shukor: "Gluyap!! (sound of lungs exiting via the mouth)"

latte conservative said...

This is great news. If we can send one muslim into space, why can't we send all of them?

gun-totin-wacko said...

Subvet and Latte:

Excellent points!

Yankee Doodle said...

Let's see....

To the Islamic World belongs
Any place Muslims have been.
The ninth Muslim in space...
Where does that leave us then?
Science fiction is not a waste,
A thing or two I have learned:
If they only really existed,
Even the Borg would be concerned.


Submit! Resistance is futile!

Lauri Olavi said...

So how will his Muslim beliefs square with the fact that the station commander is a woman, therefore his superior in the chain of command?

The fact that he is taking part in the mission shows that he's an enlightened person, despite his strict adherence to his comical (to us) Mohammedian daily routines.

A Muslim is going to space. Just get over it.