The first Malaysian in space had successfully completed his mission in International Space Station and safely returned to earth after spending 11 day in space. The whole nation is rejoicing at this great achievement, as usual, with a lot of fanfares, media coverage and more big talks on the future space explorations. At the same time, there are the skeptical and the cynical camps questioning or mocking the whole thing.
Unfortunately, I must admit that I’m with the cynical camp. C’mon, let’s get real for a second: people are still debating whether he is an astronaut, a cosmonaut, a space tourist or a space cowboy. Opps, space kampong boy. Seriously, we do not train the guy. News flash: We do not have a space program! Reality check: what exactly are the tangible benefits of this space exploration for the country?
Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong, this first Malaysian in space said that, he would be taking a small step for himself but it would be a giant leap for Malaysia. As epic and as momentous and as significant and as historic the moment might be, it did not amount to that giant leap for the nation, not even the small step.
But it was no doubt a positive sign of progress, as positive and hopeful as some heighten abnormal neuron activities in brain of a neck down paralyzed coma patient, and we are not even talking about waking up or any physical moment at yet.
One thing for sure, I sincerely wish that by putting him into space and generating so much fanfares, it’d inspire the young generation, realizing what they want in life, be it space exploration or arts and literature, following their dreams and going all out reaching beyond the stars, knowing that the sky is no longer the limit, in the way that Homer Hickam was inspired, looking at the Sputnik, Russian satellite traversing across the October sky in small town Coalwood, and grew up to be a NASA engineer.
That'd be mission accomplished.