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Malaysia's First Astronaut on Next Flight to International Space Station


Engineers at a Russian-leased space launch site in Kazakhstan are making final preparations for the flight of Malaysia's first man in space. He will travel to the International Space Station with a Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut.

The Soyuz spacecraft is set for launch Wednesday from the Baikonur space center. It will carry Malaysian Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor into orbit along with astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.

During the 12-day mission, Shukor will conduct a range of scientific experiments on space radiation and its effects on cells and microbes, as well as tests with proteins for a potential HIV vaccine. Shukor is to return to Earth October 21 while the American and the Russian will stay as part of the space station's new crew.

The mission coincides with the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, prompting Malaysian religious authorities to set special guidelines on how Shukor is to observe fasting requirements while in space.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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