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Traditions done, Yi now ready for lift-off

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Apr 08,2008
Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, left, and other members of the space crew of the Soyuz TMA-12 craft at their hotel in Baikonur yesterday. [AFP]
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — Before Yi So-yeon makes history today as Korea’s first astronaut, she has to a few things on her to-do list: cut her hair, watch a Russian movie and sign the door of her hotel room.
It’s all part of Russian tradition, going back to the first-ever trip into space by Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
Yi is scheduled to blast off into space at 8:16 p.m. Seoul time. When she does, Korea will be the 36th country to send a person to space.
Yesterday, Yi participated in a series of traditions with her Korean backup and her Russian teammates, such as watching the old Russian movie called “White Sun of the Desert.”

Her backup, Ko San, was downgraded from primary astronaut for breaking rules.
During Yi’s last scheduled media conference yesterday before lift-off, she said she will sing a song to commemorate Astronauts Day, which falls on April 12.
She refused to name the tune, however.
Yi and the other astronauts will receive a blessing from a Greek Orthodox priest this morning.
She will also sign the door of her room here at the Cosmonaut Hotel, another tradition that started with Gagarin.
Then Yi will don her spacesuit and spend some time with her family. She is not allowed to hug or kiss them to prevent any infection or disease from being transmitted.


By Park Bang-ju JoongAng Ilbo [so@joongang.co.kr]


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