Agensi Angkasa Negara (AAN)
Is The Worst Space Agency In The World
Agensi Angkasa Negara (AAN) or National Space Agency, a Malaysian government agency is actually the worst space agency in the world and the most unproductive and wasteful Malaysian government agency, even though the agency is always promoted as a sophisticated government organization which is driving the country towards development and advancement especially in the field of space.
AAN administers National Planetarium in Kuala Lumpur. This building is also the HQ of AAN. It is located in Perdana Lake Garden surrounded by National Museum, Police Museum, Museum of Islamic Arts and Bird Park. However the number of visitors to the planetarium is very small.
National Planetarium has a planetarium theater, which can accommodate up to 200 visitors, but for every show, the number of visitors is just 10 people, that is only 5% of the number of seats.
This planetarium users equipment, which are manufactured and supplied by Minolta Japan, which until today still cannot be fully operated by the staffs of National Planetarium even though the equipment has been at the planetarium for more than 10 years. The maintenance and spare parts of the planetarium equipment cost millions of RM every year, enough to purchase new equipment from other planetarium companies.
However, recently AAN still purchase planetarium equipment from Minolta with the cost of millions of RM. All the equipment purchased by AAN from Minolta are more expensive than the planetarium equipment produced by other companies with similar or better capabilities.
This is not strange since the director general of AAN, Mazlan Othman has very good relationship with Minolta Malaysia. In fact, Mazlan has declared that Minolta planetarium equipment is the best planetarium equipment in the world, and recommends them to other organizations in Malaysia if they want to build planetarium.
Mazlan has informed Sabah Science & Technology Unit that Minolta planetarium is the best planetarium in the world and recommended them to purchase the planetarium. The Sabah state government has already received quotations on the Minolta planetarium with very high prices compared to other similar or better planetarium.
The international planetarium society has already realized the very extra-ordinary relationship between Mazlan and Minolta. Several organizations in Malaysia have already aware about it. Only the Malaysian government is not aware of it.
Today, Minolta planetarium company is marketing planetarium equipment produced by other planetarium companies together with their planetarium equipment. Even the planetarium at Minolta planetarium HQ in Japan is equipped with planetarium equipment produced by other planetarium companies. Only AAN is still exclusively promoting Minolta planetarium equipment.
AAN operates an astronomical observatory at National Planetarium. This observatory is built on a leaning tower equipped with an elevator. The tower leans due to the landslide occurred very near the tower and the elevator inside the tower causes continuous vibration to the tower.
Since the tower is located in the middle of Kuala Lumpur with high rate of pollution and lighting, not many astronomical observations can be done with the observatory. This is the most sophisticated observatory belongs to AAN.
Up to today, AAN has not produce any scientific paper which is qualified enough to be presented to the scientific community using the observatory. AAN gives excuse that the observatory is for education, but with its condition, actually no astronomical education is possible.
AAN manages the national micro-satellite program. This micro-satellite is named Tiongsat-1. It suppose to be launched free of charge, but due to the management by AAN, the micro-satellite has to be launched with million of RM cost.
The Malaysian government received an offer to launch a micro-satellite free of charge from a satellite launch company in France in the early 90s. This offer was given to the Malaysian government because the particular company was given the contract to launch Malaysian MEASAT-1 & MEASAT-2 satellites.
AAN established a special committee to manage the construction and launch of Tiongsat-1, which its members were representatives of Malaysian government agencies and universities. However there was a member who has experience working with an organization related to NASA (the American space agency).
The individual who has experience in satellite engineering finally resigned from the committee after he said in a meeting with the other committee members, “We cannot call the satellite a Malaysian satellite after what we did is just paste a Malaysian flag on an existing satellite.”.
Not long after that, his wife, a foreigner was given a contract by AAN to produce a script for a planetarium show about dinosaur for National Planetarium.
After a very long time, the micro-satellite was still not ready. Due to that, the offer to launch it free of charge was no longer valid.
AAN has taken too much time to produce Tiongsat-1 micro-satellite even with the help from a consulting company in the UK. After it was ready, Tiongsat-1 was extremely very similar to a micro-satellite belongs to a university in South Korea.
Finally in 2000, Tiongsat-1 was launched by a Russian satellite launch company with million of RM cost. Unfortunately, nothing much was achievable by the micro-satellite. Photographs taken by it were so bad that everybody can get better satellite photographs via the internet.
Now AAN is still working with South Korea on its Razaksat satellite, which may end up like Tiongsat-1.
AAN also investigate UFO (Unidentified Flying Object). It may be the only government space agency in the world, which seriously investigate UFO and declare it openly to the public.
UFO is actually more popular to science fiction film makers and novel writers. It never got any attention from scientist.
AAN has sent its researchers to areas near KL International Airport with small astronomical telescopes to hunt UFO in mid-90s. However AAN did not make public its UFO findings.
Malaysian Astronaut to Mars
AAN has proposed to send its astronaut to Mars by 2020 as promoted by a popular government newspaper end of last year. AAN maybe the only national space agency in the world, which believes that astronaut can reach Mars by 2020. Even NASA, Russian space agency or other advanced space agencies are not that optimistic.
The fact is, human astronaut may be able to reach Mars in 50 years from now, and it will not be astronauts send by AAN.
Bepposax satellite is an Italian satellite, which fell near the Malaysian geographical area last year. AAN announced that it was using the same small astronomical telescopes it has used to detect the UFOs to detect Bepposax.
Actually there was a website, which provide information to detect and track Bepposax.
First Malaysian Astronaut
End of last year, AAN announced that it will send the first Malaysian astronaut to International Space Station (ISS) with the help of Russian space agency in 2005 with the cost of RM95 million. This cost is RM20 million more expensive than the amount that has to be paid by a private astronaut or space tourist to go to ISS.
Space tourists who are willing to pay RM75 million will be able to spend more than 1 week aboard ISS. The tourists, who are taken to ISS via a Russian launch vehicle, can also perform some scientific experiments.
Before launched, the tourists will be provided with complete astronaut training by the Russian space agency. These are all part of the exclusive package of space tourism cost at RM75 million. Until today, 2 space tourists have successfully completed and enjoyed such package.
The Malaysian government has to pay RM95 million to send astronaut to participate in a similar program. The government also has to purchase several Russian Sukhoi fighters. Each costs millions of RM.
Today there are cheaper space tourism package. Maybe when Malaysia sends its astronaut to ISS next year, there will be a space tourist going to the same destination with more economic and complete program.
If the Malaysian government proceeds with this plan, what Malaysia will get is just another “Alex Young” (Alex Young was a Malaysian F1 car racer who has consumed so much money from the Malaysian government, but failed in his mission as an F1 driver).
As expected, end of March 2004, Mazlan announced that the program to send the first Malaysian astronaut to space is postponed to 2007 (Penangguhan Program Angkasawan Tidak Jejaskan Kos - Dr Mazlan), because NASA cannot to send the Malaysian astronaut to ISS in 2005, due to the Columbia space shuttle accident in 2003. So, according to AAN, it is NASA, which delay the program, not AAN.
All space agencies in advanced and developing countries are currently studying the potential of new generation launch vehicles, which are different from the conventional expandable launch vehicles. Some of these new generation launch vehicles can be operated similar to modern aircrafts from an airport.
AAN is still promoting the launch of astronaut and satellite via the traditional launch vehicle with the technology of the 60s, where the astronaut and satellite are placed on top of the expandable launch vehicle, which originated from inter-continental ballistic missile.
National Space Policy
AAN announced that it is preparing National Space Policy about 10 years ago. So, where is the policy?
Close down AAN, or at least restructure the agency.
BERNAMA, Berita Harian & TV3
- Mazlan - 10.04.2004