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Is Malaysia joining the space race soon? Likely, says minister

Is Malaysia joining the space race soon? Likely, says minister
Published September 14, 2023 Updated September 14, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will have a finalised guideline for rocket launching capabilities by October, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Chang Lih Kang said on Thursday (Sept 14) as the country looks to realise its space exploration ambitions.

The Malaysian government, through the National Space Agency (Mysat), has placed several of its own satellites in space but lacks the technology to launch them.

Mr Chang told a press conference held after a Mysat event that investors have already expressed their interest in helping the South-east Asian nation develop its own rocket launching expertise, and the launch of the guideline next month could set off more serious talks between them and Malaysian government.

“This will be a private initiative… but we are hoping that we would have a rocket launching facility inside the country because we are in a very strategic location,” the minister said.

“This could really help our (space) industry.”

Because of how expensive it is to launch a rocket into space, only eight countries in the world currently have the technology.

The minister said interest to help develop Malaysia’s space capabilities have come from both private companies and governments, but was coy when asked to state who they are.

“We have had several interests,” he said.

One of them could be SpaceX, the company owned by controversial billionaire Elon Musk, who also owns Tesla.

In July, Mr Musk spoke to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim through a virtual meeting that was highly publicised. Mr Anwar eventually announced billions of dollars in investment from both Tesla and SpaceX.

That same month, Tesla, one of the world’s leading electric car makers, opened its regional headquarters in the country. Starlink, a SpaceX subsidiary, also began to offer its satellite internet service to rural parts of Malaysia.

Malaysia was among SpaceX’s earliest customers when it first launched in 2009.

Mr Anwar told staff of the Finance Ministry in July that Malaysia was among the rare few nations that placed faith in Mr Musk when many in the West did not, a factor that had likely drawn Mr Musk to pick the country instead of regional competitors. MALAY MAIL