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From Astronaut to Public Ambassador for Science and Culture

From Astronaut to Public Ambassador for Science and Culture

Posted April. 09, 2008 07:06,   


Yi So-yeon is not only Korea’s first astronaut but also a female astronaut. What role will she play after her visit to space? Korea’s first astronaut is a woman, which has occurred only twice in the world, following the U.K.’s Helen Sharman, a British female who became that nation’s first astronaut among 13,000 candidates on December 25, 1989. She later gave science lectures and played a role as a public ambassador after traveling to the Mir Space Station on the Russian space craft Soyuz TM-12.

Yi has a high possibility of becoming a role public ambassador for science and culture once she returns to Korea. She can also be a great role model through lectures for teenagers and by publishing books. In other nations, female astronauts have become national heroines or high-ranking officials. Russia`s Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, has played an active part in politics and diplomacy since her trip into orbit in 1963. She witnessed the launch of a Soyuz on April 8 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Claudie Haigneré, France’s first female astronaut, became minister for Research and New Technologies after her trips to space in 1996 and 2001.

Headhunting companies say Yi will be welcomed in the labor market as she has a doctorate from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and has good command of a foreign language.

Roberta Bondar became Canada’s first female astronaut in 1992 when she worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She now runs a consulting firm named after her.

Advertising companies are also focusing on Yi`s value. Whether or not she appears on commercials depends on the decision of the astronaut management committee under the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.

sunrise@donga.com jermes@donga.com