Monday, March 10, 2008

Unauthorized reading material gets astronaut yanked

South Korea has had to pick a new first astronaut for their country, after Russia got upset with the initial choice. From the BBC:

Yi So-yeon, 29, is to replace Ko San, 31, on a Russian flight to the International Space Station in April.

Russia's Federal Space Agency requested the change because Mr Ko broke training centre rules, a senior official said.

South Korean officials played down the breaches, which involved removing reading material from the centre.

On one occasion, Mr Ko sent a training book back to South Korea - something he said was by mistake.

On another, he received a book from a Russian colleague that he was not meant to read, said Lee Sang-mok of South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

"The Russians emphasised the importance of abiding by the rules, as even small mistakes can bring about grave consequences in space," Mr Lee said.

Mr Ko, who beat more than 36,000 other applicants to the position, has been training in Russia since last year.

He will now serve as the back-up astronaut when Ms Yi flies with two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station in early April.

It's really hard to refrain from trying to fill in the blanks, or, more precisely, making wild guesses as to what might have really happened. On the other hand, if the people involved want to play down the squabble (whatever the particulars), perhaps I should drop it...

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