Apr 9, 2008

Korea's first Astronaut heads for ISS

On Tuesday, South Korea's first astronaut Yi So-Yeon blasted off into space on a Russian Soyuz TMA-12 spaceship. The launch took place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A few minutes after the launch, Russian space control confirmed the Soyuz spacecraft with three astronauts on board had successfully reached orbit.

As the Russian Soyuz rocket soared into the clear blue sky from Baikonur cosmodrome, the Korean's mother, Jung Kum Sun, let out a piercing scream and fell to the ground before being led away by doctors.

This mission, the 17th International Space Station venture, is comprised of three cosmonauts: Commander Sergei Volkov, Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, and Yi So-yeon, the nanotechnology engineer from South Korea.

A $25 million contract signed in 2006 by the South Korean government gave Yi the right to ascend into space. She is excited about taking some Korean culture into space by singing a song at a dinner party on April 12th at the International Space Station and serving traditional kimchi spicy cabbage.

Yi’ will conduct some scientific experiments during the 11 days of her stay at the International Space Station. She will make the return to earth with members of the 16th expedition. Volkov and Kononenko will spend six months on the space station.


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