Mazlan Othman was educated in Malaysia and received her PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Otago, New Zealand. On returning to Malaysia in 1981, she pioneered an academic programme on astrophysics at the National University of Malaysia and was appointed Professor of Astrophysics in 1994.
She was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department in 1990 to direct the establishment of the National Planetarium, under the Space Science Studies Division. As its first Director-General, she also led the design and manufacture of Malaysia’s first remote-sensing satellite, TiungSAT-1, launched in 2000.
In 1999, she was appointed Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and returned to Malaysia to set up the National Space Agency (ANGKASA). As its founding Director-General, she established the National Space Centre which houses TT&C, AIT, calibration and research facilities; founded the Langkawi National Observatory; and initiated the programme which placed the world’s first remote-sensing satellite in the near-Equatorial orbit. She spearheaded the Angkasawan Programme which saw the launch of the first Malaysian astronaut to the International Space Station in 2007. That year, she left Malaysia again to resume the post of Director of UNOOSA. In 2009, she was appointed Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV). She retired from the UN in 2013.
She is currently Project Director of Mega Science 3.0 at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. The Project examines global mega trends going to 2050 and aims at positioning Malaysia within these future scenarios.
She is a fellow of several national and international professional bodies and is the recipient of several national and international awards.