Malaysian Astronaut Idol

While Malaysia's science and technology minister Jamaludin Jarjis talks of putting the first Malaysian on the moon by 2020, in the near term, the country is faced with the prospect of selecting an astronaut for a mission on Russia's Soyuz to the international space station in 2007.

The problem is, in a nation of 24 million people, how to pick the best astronaut? The answer: Have a contest! Let the people vote online!

The Malaysian space agency (Angkasa) wants the astronaut who is not only physically and psychologically fit, but "able to relate to the people and serve as an inspiration to the country's youth."

It is unclear on whether the first Malaysian astronaut selection process will be similar to that of popular reality-based TV shows featuring mass Web voting, such as American Idol -- or, more to the point, Malaysian Idol.

(Personally -- and I haven't seen photos of all the contestants -- but as it stands, I'd vote for the astronaut hopeful pilot who cheated death. He's brave, and has good teeth and a great smile. If only he could sing like Kelly Clarkson...)

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