While the space programs of India and China have received some international attention, other Asian nations are also reaching for the stars — and overcoming unique challenges.
Ahead of the first space flight for one of the nation’s astronauts — hitching a ride with the Russians — Malaysia is seeking to establish how Muslim astronauts will pray facing Mecca.:
Muslims wash before they pray but not only is water a precious commodity in space, but it is also impractical in weightlessness.
Likewise, the faithful face Mecca. However, that will mean pin-pointing a moving location while in zero gravity.
And Muslim prayer times are linked to those of the sunrise and sunset, but in orbit the sun appears to rise and set more than a dozen times a day.
As well, the South Korean space program is seeking to develop space kimchi..:
In a move that’s sure to excite current and future astronauts, South Korea is developing space kimchi:
April 2008 will see the first kimchi in space when Korea’s first astronaut journeys to the final frontier. With the help of cutting-edge technology, the national delicacy acclaimed for its taste as much as its healthful properties will become “space food.”
Generally, Korean’s eat kimchi as regularly as Malaysian Muslims pray facing Mecca (perhaps even moreso, but the Malaysians I knew weren’t exceptionally devout). And you wouldn’t want an open bowl of kimchi in a zero-gravity environment.
(Astronaut food picture stolen from NASA.)
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
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