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Malaysia will run its space programme responsibly, says D-G

Publish date: Sun, 07 Aug 2022, 08:12 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will ensure that the nation's space activities are carried out in a safe and responsible manner as provided for under the Malaysian Space Authority Act 2022.

Malaysia Space Agency director-general Azlikamil Napiah said this was is in line with Malaysia's interest to develop its space industry while protecting the nation's security, adding that it would comply with international space agreements.

He was commenting on the Chinese booster rocket — Long March 5B — that made an uncontrolled return into the Earth's atmosphere and crossed Malaysian airspace. The incident had caused a commotion and was scrutinised by several international bodies as practices conducted in outer space could impact a nation's security.

Azlikamil said the uncontrolled return of the Long March 5B was considered unsafe and dangerous. 

"It is not the first time that the rocket went out of control during its return to Earth. The same rocket made an uncontrolled return to Earth and its debris fell over the villages in Ivory Coast, West Africa, and the Indian Ocean near Maldives in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

"This is the first time the Long March 5B rocket crossed Malaysian airspace and its debris fell in the Sulu Sea.

"Although not in large quantities, the debris could have some negative impact on the environment due to the flammable materials in the rocket nozzle," he told the New Straits Times when met recently.

Azlikamil said Malaysia had developed good relations with international bodies and would continue to foster such cooperation as this was useful every time a rocket was launched into space.

"As a member of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that is coordinated by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), we have our own set of procedures every time we launch a rocket into space and we cooperate with these international bodies to monitor space activities.

"Malaysia is also a signatory to two treaties — the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the Rescue Agreement of 1968. We, however, have yet to ratify the treaties.

"In line with the national interest, we have to do it soon to protect our rights should anything happen within our parameters," he said.

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