South Korea's First Astronaut Docks at ISS

Nation paid $25M to shoot her to the space station
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2008 6:38 PM CDT
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-12 space ship carrying a new crew to the international space station (ISS) blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – South Korea’s first astronaut arrived at the International Space Station today, and her country must be relieved—having paid $25 million to get her there, reports. The South Korean president called So-yeon Yi’s mission a “stepping stone” in that country’s fledgling space program; lacking ships of their own, they paid the Russians to take her on an 11-day spin.

"I feel really great," said Yi, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer. "I will try to do my best and I will spend all my energy for Koreans." She accompanied two Russian cosmonauts to the station. South Korea's president said the nation hopes to “launch its own space vehicle carrying its own satellite by 2020.”