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Korea's First Astronaut Yi Soyeon Blasts Off into Space Updated: 2008-04-08 12:00:00 KST

Korea's First Astronaut Yi Soyeon Blasts Off into Space
Less than two hours ago, Koreans witnessed a proud moment in their nation's history with the country's first astronaut taking off on a voyage into outer space.
While in orbit above Earth, Yi Soyeon will be fulfilling her duties as a scientist as well as a representative of her home land.
Park Soojin has our top story.

At 8:16 PM Tuesday Korea time, 49 million Koreans watched with pride and excitement as Korea's first astronaut blasted off.
From a launch at Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome, the Russian Soyuz TMA-12 rocket vanished into the vacuum of space, carrying Yi Soyeon and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko .
The spacecraft is scheduled to dock at the International Space Center on Thursday.
While the two Russian cosmonauts will stay with the orbiting station's crew for the next six months, nanotechnology engineer Yi's mission is to conduct 18 different kinds of experiments during her ten-day stay in space.
Among them is testing the effectiveness of a weight scale Korea developed for use in space, observing plant growth in a vacuum and communicating with Korean broadcasters for live interviews.
With Yi's mission focused on carrying out scientific experiments, Korea will add its name to the list of eleven countries that have conducted space experiments.
Besides carrying out this mission, the first Korean astronaut will introduce her country's traditional food and beverages such as kimchi, specially developed and packaged for space to the crew aboard the ISS.
Yi's journey will also include a visit to the US module at the space station.
For this milestone trip, the Korean government shouldered 20 million US dollars to co-sponsor the flight with Russia.
The 29-year-old will return to Earth on April 19 along with US astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko and spend two weeks at a Russian hospital for recuperation upon touchdown.

Park Soojin, Arirang News.
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