Malaysia (a country that has declared attending Friday prayer sessions mandatory) is getting ready to send a Muslim astronaut into space as part of an International Space Station mission in 2007. This poses quite the religious quandary.
Muslims are required to pray five times daily, turning toward Mecca during prayer. But as Zainal Abidin Abdul Rashid of Malaysia National University pointed out ..., the space station circles the Earth 16 times in 24 hours, with a sunrise and sunset occurring about every 90 minutes. "Does this mean we have to perform 80 prayers a day?" he said. ... On the issue of "qiblat" or the direction of Mecca, suggestions range from installing a special rotating seat so that the Muslim astronaut could turn easily toward Mecca, to using a calculator that can determine qiblat direction and the prayer schedule. Then there is also the question of how to perform ablution, a ritual cleansing of the body, with water-rationing in space. Also, how does one do the prayer ritual of kneeling and prostrating under zero gravity?
I hate to rain on anyone's rainbow-colored parade, but WTF? As a citizen who helps fund this nonsense, may I just suggest that we send someone up whose religious duties, if any, don't interfere with his scientific ones?