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Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Malaysian

First Malaysian

First Malaysian in space returns to Earth

Two Russian cosmonauts and the first Malaysian in space returned to Earth on Sunday after leaving the orbiting International Space Station, Russian mission control said.

The Soyuz craft with Shaikh Muszaphar Shukor, who carried out experiments for Malaysia's Genome Institute, and Russians Yuri Yurtshikin and Oleg Kotov touched down on the Kazakh steppe at 1043 GMT, it said.

The Malaysian astronaut, whose trip was paid for by the Malaysian government, left on the mission on October 10 with American Peggy Whitson, the new commander on the space station, and a Russian Yuri Malenchenko.

The capsule landed around 200 kilometres (120 miles) away from where was initially supposed to in Kazakhstan after its trajectory was altered after it entered the Earth's atmosphere, ITAR-TASS reported.

They were taken out of the capsule several minutes after landing and were given a routine medical check. They were due to go by helicopter to the nearest airport to be taken to Moscow.

The temperature on the ground was a chilly six degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) and the men were given hot tea and were laid out on warming mats.

The three 'feel good,' a mission control official said on television channel Vesti.

The decision to include a Malasian in a space mission was made four years ago, when Russia landed a multi-billion dollar order to supply Malaysia with 18 Sukhoi 30 fighter jets.

A practising Muslim, the Malaysian celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan aboard the ISS.

Among other experiments, Muszaphar examined the impact of microgravitation on the coordination of eye and head movements and the evolution of cancerous cells in weightless conditions.

Yurtshikin and Kotov had both spent six months aboard the space station.

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