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Mar 16, 2008



Kimchi and ramyeon, two of the most popular Korean staple food, have been officially authorised by the Russian space authorities to be taken to space for Korea’s first astronaut.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s science ministry has announced that biosystems engineering researcher Yi So-yeon will replace Ko San as the first Korean to go into space next month.

Twenty-nine-year-old Yi, who recently earned a doctorate at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, had been trained as Ko’s backup on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, scheduled for launch on April 8. Yi will be the world’s 50th woman to go into space.

“Russia’s Federal Space Agency recommended the replacement as Ko repeatedly violated training protocol,” said Lee Sang-mok, head of the ministry’s space technology bureau.

Ko mistakenly took a mission training manual home along with his personal belongings last September. Although he returned it later, the Russian agency filed an official complaint with the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) as taking the manual outside the training centre is banned.

Last month, a spacecraft pilot instructions guide that Ko was not authorised to look at was found in his possession. The Korean astronaut is a mission specialist who will conduct scientific experiments in space.

“Ko was aware of the rules and signed an agreement not to break them on entering the programme,” Lee said.

KARI president Paik Hong-yul said the Russian agency emphasised the importance of abiding to rules because minor mistakes and disobedience could result in serious consequences in space.

“Ko will not be penalised, however, and no changes will be made to his status as senior researcher at KARI,” Paik said.

Ko and Yi were selected as finalists from 36,206 astronaut hopefuls in late 2006. They have been undergoing evaluation and training at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre since March 2007.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft will blast off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Space Centre. Yi will stay at the space station for about a week conducting various experiments. She is scheduled to return to Earth on 19 April in a capsule that will land in Kazakhstan. (The Korea Herald/ AsiaNews)


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