Now, guidelines on how Muslim astronauts must behave in space

November 14th, 2007 - 1:52 am ICT by admin  
Malaysia’s first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a practicing Muslim, is scheduled for launch on Wednesday aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket for an eight-day stay aboard the International Space Station.

The booklet titled ‘A Guideline of Performing Ibadah (worship) at the International Space Station’, has advised Shukor to abstain from fasting while in space and use a wet towel for cleansing rituals.

The booklet says Muslims can hunch down if they are unable to stand up straight in space, sit if standing is not possible, and lie down if sitting is impractical.

The booklet also specifies that in the event of death in orbit, a Muslim’s body should be brought back to Earth, or if that is not possible, “buried” in space after a simple funeral.

“Islam is very lenient. If I can’t fast in space I can always come back and do later,” Discovery News quoted Shukor, a 35-year-old orthopaedic physician and part-time model, as saying in a preflight interview.

Shukor will be flying with his commander, US astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko. He plans to study cancer cells in space.

Incidentally, Shukor won’t be the first Muslim, or even the second Muslim in orbit. The distinction of being the first Muslim in space goes to Prince Sultan bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, a nephew of King Abdullah who flew with a US crew during a 1985 mission on the space shuttle.

However, the Challenger disaster a year later led to a ban on tourist flights on space shuttles.

Iranian-born entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, of Plano, Texas, paid about 20 million dollars for a Soyuz ride and week-long stay on the station last year, becoming the second Muslim to fly in space. (ANI)

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