Malaysia's first astronaut turns entrepreneur
Doctor, then astronaut, and now entrepreneur with e-commerce platform for halal products
He is a doctor, astronaut and part-time model.
And now he can add "entrepreneur'' to his resume.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie, the first Malaysian to go to space, is today one of the co-founders of e-commerce platform Aladdin Street.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, the company, which is an online marketplace for premium halal products ranging from food to electronics, opened its Singapore office last week.
The Singapore version of the website is due to launch in the fourth quarter of this year.
Dr Sheikh, 44, who was in town for the opening, told reporters: "Halal is not only for Muslims but for everyone in search of a safer, healthier and more wholesome lifestyle."
The progression from doctor to astronaut to entrepreneur does not seem like a natural one, but Dr Sheikh believes in the importance of always trying new things in life.
He said: "When you succeed in one field, you should try a new one.
"You can't live in a comfort zone, you need to always push yourself to the limit."
ASTRONAUT: Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie spent 11 days in space. PHOTO: NEW STRAITS TIMES
Testing the limits was certainly something he did during his 11 days in space. He went to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 with the Expedition 16 crew in October 2007.
Dr Sheikh, who is Muslim, said the biggest challenges he faced in space were performing his daily prayers and fasting, as his journey coincided with the last few days of Ramadan that year.
He told TNP: "The sun rises and sets every 45 minutes, which made praying five times a day very difficult."
So, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia came up with a set of guidelines to help him - it decreed that a Muslim astronaut could use the time zone of the country he or she had launched from. In Dr Sheikh's case, this was Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Praying in zero gravity also posed the challenge of carrying out the different physical postures, such as bowing and prostrating - one that Dr Sheikh tried to overcome by tying his feet down, so that he did not topple over during prayers.
Dr Sheikh recalled his time in space as a very humbling experience, one that he still remembers fondly almost nine years on.
He added: "It really changes your perspective as a whole. You realise how the Earth is just a speck of dust in the galaxy."
Since his space sojourn, Dr Sheikh, who is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession, has been travelling to give motivational talks. He has also been to Gaza for humanitarian work.
The father of two daughters, Dr Sheikh said he hopes this thirst for trying new things will be passed down: "I hope that one day my daughters will follow in my footsteps and become astronauts themselves."