PETALING JAYA, July 5 -- On October 10, 2007, Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha made history by becoming the first Malaysian astronaut, but ever since there has been little or no talk of "Malaysia" and "space".

Why is that?

Malaysia's first-ever astrophysicist Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman said it boils down to diminished interest space travel and space in general.

During his stint as Malaysian National Space Agency's Angkasa Programme director general, she said space was the only thing that Malaysians were talking about.

"It was not part of our plan initially (to send a Malaysian to space).

"We were focusing on building the infrastructure for aerospace, like the National Observatory in Langkawi, but nobody noti...