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“Yi So-yeon”
South Korea: Yi on the Mend, Ko Says He Didn’t Steal Documents

South Korean astronaut Yi So-yeon is out of the hospital after treatment for injuries she received during the rough landing of her Soyuz vehicle last month. The Korean Times reports that she still has a sore back.

“I’m still wearing a brace, and my doctor said that I must not run, yet. That’s really hard because I love running,” Yi said at a press conference on Friday. She will leave South Korea on Sunday for a mission debriefing in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the man she replaced on the flight, Ko San, denied an earlier report that he was booted from the International Space Station mission for attempting to send classified documents about the Russian space program home to Korea.

“I’m not that stupid to try to steal important documents that way. There were really subtle incidents and Russian officials later agreed they did not matter,” Ko told The Korea Times. “The replacement of astronauts was a very complicated matter because intelligence agencies were involved in it.”

Ko said he was trying to understand how Soyuz’s systems worked so he could participate in the mission safely.


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  • May 17, 2008
Korea’s Yi to be Hospitalized for a Week; Whitson Describes Landing

Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, is expected to be hospitalized for a week to recover from back injuries she suffered from the rough re-entry and landing of her Soyuz spacecraft on April 19, Telecoms Korea reported. The Korean government says that Yi suffered from mild dislocation and bruising of the vertebrae. She is being treated with physical and drug therapy as well as acupuncture at an Air Force hospital in […]

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  • May 2, 2008
South Korean Astronaut Hospitalized for Back Pain; Soyuz Blame Game Continues

South Korean astronaut Yi So-Yeon was hospitalized on Tuesday because of back pain that resulted from Soyuz’s rough re-entry on April 19. Telecoms Korea reports the 29-year-old Yi was undergoing tests at an Air Force hospital in Cheongju, Korea.

“She has complained of considerable back pains and will have to cancel all her appointments for the time being, including visits to the presidential office and TV interviews,” Telecoms Korea quotes a doctor at the hospital.

While Yi recovers, the investigation into what caused the off-course, high-G re-entry continues amid much finger pointing. Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log has a nice report of the claims, counterclaims and sometimes strange statements being thrown around. Both the Russian and American space agencies have downplayed the seriousness of the problem. Russian space chief Anatoly Perminov, fresh off his poorly received comments that having two women aboard Soyuz was bad luck, is playing up a conspiracy angle: false rumors are being spread by “people who are interested in destabilization of our relations with the American partners.”


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  • April 29, 2008
Reports: Soyuz Re-entered Atmosphere Hatch First

A Soyuz spacecraft that landed nearly 300 miles off course on Saturday apparently re-entered the atmosphere hatch first with a propulsion unit still attached, according to published reports.

CBS News reports that the Soyuz descent capsule – carrying Peggy Whitson, Yuri Malenchenko and Yi So-yeon home from the International Space Station – had difficulty separating from its propulsion module. The spacecraft re-entered the top of the atmosphere in an unusual orientation until the propulsion unit broke away, something it is designed to do in such a situation. The Soyuz then righted itself with its heat shield down.

The “ballistic” re-entry subjected the three astronauts to high G forces. CBS News quotes Whitson as saying that a meter in the spacecraft read 8.2 G’s.

The Russian Interfax news agency is quoting an unnamed Russian space official as saying the crew was in serious danger, according to the Associated Press. The hatch suffered major damage, as did a valve that equalizes pressure between the inside and outside of the ship. An antenna melted away, preventing communication between the capsule and Mission Control in Moscow.


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  • April 22, 2008
Soyuz Landing – Apparently Much Worse Than Thought

MSNBC’s James Oberg has an analysis of Saturday’s mishap involving a Soyuz spacecraft that experienced a high-G re-entry and landed 260 miles off course. Apparently, things were worse than originally reported – including a brush fire that burned the parachute and filled the capsule with smoke, and a confused Mission Control that lost track of the spacecraft. The three-person crew – ISS Commander Peggy Whitson, Russian Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, […]

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  • April 21, 2008
When in Doubt, Blame the Women

Russian space agency chief Anatoly Perminov put forth a rather bizarre theory about why a Soyuz spacecraft suffered a malfunction on Saturday, subjecting its crew to a punishing re-entry while landing 260 miles off target: A dangerous technical glitch that’s occurred three times in five years? Naaah. There were too many women on board. “You know in Russia, there are certain bad omens about this sort of thing, but thank […]

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  • April 20, 2008
Soyuz Crew Reported Safe Despite High G Re-entry, Off Target Landing

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying U.S. space station commander Peggy Whitson and South Korea’s first astronaut landed 260 miles off course in Kazakhstan on Saturday after a re-entry that subjected the crew to as much as 10 times the force of gravity. The Associate Press quotes Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin as calling the crew’s condition “satisfactory.” Whitson, South Korean bioengineer Yi So-yeon, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko were being […]

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  • April 19, 2008
Soyuz Launches New Crew to ISS

A Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonaur Cosmodrome on Tuesday carrying a new crew to the International Space Station. Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko were joined by South Korea’s Yi So-yeon, a 29-year-old bioengineering student, on the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft. Volkov and Kononenko will join American Garrett Reisman as the new crew ISS crew. Yi will return to Earth with current ISS crew members Yuri Malenchenko and […]

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  • April 8, 2008
Soyuz Prepared for Historic Tuesday Launch

Russian technicians have rolled out a Soyuz rocket to the launch pad for an historic liftoff that will send the first South Korean and the first second-generation cosmonaut into orbit. Yi So-yeon, a South Korean bioengineering student, will join cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko on a Soyuz TMA-12 flight to the International Space Station. Volkov is the first second-generation space explorer. His father Alexander logged 391 days in space […]

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  • April 6, 2008
Sergei Volkov set to boldly go where his father went before

Sergei Volkov will become the first second-generation space traveler next month when he blasts off on an 11-day mission to the International Space Station. The 34-year-old Russian cosmonaut will follow in the footsteps of his father, Alexander, who took off for the space station Mir in October 1991. By the time he returned in March 1992, the Soviet Union had collapsed and he had become a Russian citizen. Sergei Volkov […]

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  • March 19, 2008