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S. Korea names woman as first astronaut

  • Story Highlights
  • South Korea has named a female engineer as its first astronaut
  • Yi So-yeon, 30, will replace her male counterpart Ko San, 31
  • Russian space authorities said they wanted Ko San replaced
  • They said the astronaut had violated their regulations
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The South Korean government has named a female mechanical engineer as its first person to go to space after replacing its initial choice at the request of Russian space authorities.

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South Korea's first person to go to space has been named as 30-year-old Yi So-yeon.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said at a news conference Monday that Yi So-yeon will replace Ko San as the country's choice to fly on a Russian Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station in early April.

South Korea originally named Ko as its candidate in September, but Lee Sang-mok, a senior ministry official, said Russia's Federal Space Agency asked for a replacement last month because Ko had violated regulations at a Russian space training center.

The astronaut will work aboard the International Space Station for about a week with two Russian cosmonauts, conducting scientific experiments. The mission will make South Korea the world's 35th country and Asia's sixth to send an astronaut into space.

South Korea plans to complete its first space center by the end of next year as part of a program to lay the technological and scientific groundwork for space exploration in coming decades.

Since 1992 South Korea has had 11 satellites launched, mostly for space and ocean observation and communications, according to the ministry.
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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

All About South KoreaManned Space FlightInternational Space Station

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