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Think a month of fasting is hard? Try it in space.

MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images In an effort to kick-start its nascent space program, Malaysia is set to launch its first space-bound national into orbit on Oct. 10. In addition to the usual scientific studies and research assignments, the government of the predominantly Muslim country wants to make sure that its novice angkasawan (Malay for astronaut) does ...

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MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images

In an effort to kick-start its nascent space program, Malaysia is set to launch its first space-bound national into orbit on Oct. 10. In addition to the usual scientific studies and research assignments, the government of the predominantly Muslim country wants to make sure that its novice angkasawan (Malay for astronaut) does not forgo his duties as a devout Muslim. Thirty five year old Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (who is a doctor and part-time model), was chosen from among 11,000 eager hopefuls to accompany two Russian cosmonauts on a ten-day mission in the International Space Station. While he has been fasting for the month of Ramadan throughout his training, the strains of a zero-gravity environment might mean our astronaut will have to adjust his daily rituals during the mission. For a practicing Muslim who prays five times a day, would he have to pray 80 times every 24 hours, since the ISS will be circling the Earth 16 times each day? Plus, figuring out where Mecca is while you are in space must be no easy task.

In order to avoid confusion, Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development laid down some guidelines on how to observe Islam correctly while in space. For example:

During the prayer ritual, if you can’t stand up straight, you can hunch. If you can’t stand, you can sit. If you can’t sit, you should lie down.

The guidelines also include useful tidbits on what to do if there is no water for washing rituals, or on the ill-fated chance that there is a death on board. And Malaysian Science Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis recently declared that Muszaphar is allowed to postpone his fasting until he returns back to earth.

So as he prepares to be his country’s first galaxy representative, the thoughtful Muszaphar plans on bringing Malaysian food on board to share with his Russian shuttle cohabitants. But don’t worry, he says:

We’ve made sure it’s not very spicy so the Russians can eat it very well.

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