Malaysia to shelve space programme for lack of funds

April 22nd, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 22 (DPA) Malaysia’s fledgling space programme will be temporarily shelved due to a lack of funds, six months after sending its first astronaut to space, a news report said Tuesday. Science minister Maximus Ongkili said the initial plan to send a second astronaut to space could not be carried out due to a problem of budgeting.

“There’s zero money. The ministry will have to look for money if it wants to continue with the programme,” Ongkili was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily.

On Oct 10, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor created history as the first Malaysian astronaut to blast into space on board a Russian rocket.

Ongkili told reporters Monday that while the government was keen to send another astronaut into space, the money needed to do it was too much.

“There are competing priorities and other social development needs. We have to ensure that the money spent is worth it,” he said.

The first launch cost the government $25 million, an amount partly offset by the country’s purchase of 18 Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets in a 900-million-dollar deal in 2003.

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