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Russia Dumps Korean Astro Boy For Astro Girl In Textbook Scandal

'sorry for smiling but...' File image of Korean Astronaut Yi So Yeon.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) March 10, 2008
South Korea on Monday chose a woman to be its first astronaut in a late change after Russia's space authorities said the man initially selected for next month's mission had breached training rules.

Yi So-Yeon, 29, a biosystems engineering student, will now blast off on April 8 in a Russian-made Soyuz rocket, replacing 30-year-old male computer engineer Ko San on the 27-million-dollar space flight.

"The glory of becoming South Korea's first astronaut goes to a woman," Lee Sang-Mok, a senior South Korean official handling the space project, told a news conference.

Ko and Yi have been training in Russia since last year, but officials there have complained Ko took training manuals out of the space training centre without permission in "repeated breaches of training protocol."

"In space, a very tiny mistake could cause a big trouble," Lee said.

Seoul had decided to accept Russia's recommendation to switch Yi and Ko, who will now stay on the ground and assist Yi's mission, which includes conducting various experiments in space, Lee said.

Yi is scheduled to return to earth on April 19 after conducting experiments at the International Space Station, he added.

South Korea will become the 36th country to put a person into space since Russia sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961.

South Korea announced last year an ambitious plan to launch its own lunar orbiter by 2020 and send a probe to the moon five years after that.

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Energia Hosts Second Convention For Students Of Space
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Mar 07, 2008
S.P.Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia hosted the 2nd Convention of students from space-industry related institutions and departments of higher education in Moscow - Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Moscow State Forest University, Moscow Aviation Institute, Moscow Aviation Technology Institute, Moscow State Technical University STANKIN, Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

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