Russians present ‘Kazakh’ whip’ to 1st woman to command space station

Click here: TheCanadianPress.com – Russians present ‘Kazakh’ whip’ to 1st woman to command space station

A Russian space official presented a traditional Kazakh whip Tuesday to American astronaut Peggy Whitson a day before she was scheduled to head into orbit to become the first woman to command the international space station. Whitson laughed as Russian space official Sergei Semchenko handed her the three-pronged whip, saying she would take it on board the Soyuz-FG rocket “just in case.”

The rocket is set to blast off Wednesday with Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Malaysia’s first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, on board.

Whitson, of Beaconsfield, Iowa, said the mission serves as an example of peace between the West and the Muslim world…Shukor, who will be the ninth Muslim in space, said he hoped his 12-day trip will be an inspiration to his Southeast Asian country and to Muslims around the world. “It’s a small step for me but a great leap for the Malaysian people,” he said, rephrasing Neil Armstrong’s legendary words following the Apollo landing on the Moon. “I feel a responsibility for all the Muslims in the world.” During his stay on the space station, Shukor, a physician, is to experiment with microbes of tropical diseases and with proteins for a potential HIV vaccine. He will also study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on cancer cells and human genes.

“Shukor’s mission will show that Muslims can contribute to global scientific research,” Malaysia’s space minister, Jamaludin Jarjis, told The Associated Press. “It will also help remove the negative perception of Muslims in the world.”…The first Muslim in space was Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, who joined the crew of the shuttle Discovery in 1985.

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