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Korea’s First Astronaut to Blast-Off Next April

Posted September. 06, 2007 07:28,   


The honor of being the nation’s first astronaut went to Ko San(31), who will go into space next April.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) announced on Wednesday their decision to choose Ko San over Lee So-yeon (29) to be first astronaut to board a Russian spacecraft.

The two candidates were assessed in four main categories: training performance in Russia (50 percent); scores received last December when they were picked at the competition (30 percent); scientific experiment scores (10 percent), and comprehensive assessment scores (10 percent). “There was very little difference in the scores of the two candidates. Ko received higher marks in the Russian language, the training program required for space exploration, and scientific experiment undertaken in South Korea,” said vice-science minister Jeong Yoon at the press conference.

Ko, who is now in training at the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre in Russia, said, “I will do my utmost until I set foot on space. I hope that the nation’s space technology develops one step further with this opportunity.”

With Ko selected as the winner, the 17-month long competition to pick Korea’s first astronaut that started with 36,206 initial hopefuls last April, was wrapped up.

Ko will go into space on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft on April 8, 2008, and spend seven to eight days at the International Space Station (ISS), conducting 18 tests.

The Ministry of Science and Technology held Korea’s first astronaut award ceremony at the Korean Embassy to Russia in Moscow at 1:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. local time) on Wednesday.

sohyung@donga.com viyonz@donga.com