Malaysia's first astronaut, involved in a 25 million dollar space programme, will carry out scientific research including a study on the growth of cancer cells in outer space, reports said Wednesday.
The astronaut would conduct research on cells, bacteria and the crystallisation of protein, said Abdul Rahman Abdul Jamal, director of the Molecule Medical Institute at the National University of Malaysia.
"The research is aimed at giving local scientists the opportunity to study, design and conduct experiments in space," Abdul Rahman said, cited by the Bernama news agency.
Zulkeffeli Mat Jusoh, national astronaut programme director, said most Malaysians thought sending a fellow countryman into space was a waste of time and money.
"Worse, many think we will spin a top in space or make milk tea," he was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.
Russia will send Malaysia's first cosmonaut into space in October 2007 as part of a scientific mission aboard the International Space Station.
The two countries signed a deal to send the cosmonaut into space on board Russia's Soyuz spacecraft during a visit to Malaysia by Russian President Vladimir Putin in August 2003.
It is part of a billion-dollar deal for 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets.