Woman to Be S.Korea’s First Astronaut

A woman will replace the male candidate as the first Korean in space. Yi So-yeon (30) replaces Ko San (32) on a Russian spacecraft going to the international space station on April 8 after Ko twice violated training protocol. Several foreign astronauts have been replaced for health reasons at the 11th hour, but this is the first time a candidate has been replaced for breaching regulations. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology decided to make the switch at the request of the Russian Space Agency. According to the ministry, Russian authorities found Ko in breach in September and February. On one occasion Ko sent a mission training manual to Korea with his personal belongings. Russian authorities reportedly asked Korea to replace Ko on grounds that the slightest violation of rules in space can have disastrous consequences.

Ko will now serve as backup for Yi. The Soyuz rocket is scheduled for launch on April 8. On completion of their basic training on March 18, Yi and Ko will move to Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on March 26.