Space race aceDreams come true. The Republic of Korea has finally embraced outer space. The country’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon blasted off at 8:16 p.m. yesterday from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. She said, “I will be back safely.”
The manned Russian spaceship Soyuz headed toward the International Space Station, located 350 kilometers above the surface of the earth. There, Yi is scheduled to conduct scientific experiments for 10 days and be back on April 19. We hope Yi, who went through months of tough training, accomplishes her mission and returns safely.
It doesn’t matter whether South Korea is the first country to travel into space or not. It is true that Russia took a leading role in launching the spaceship and training the astronauts. But this is just a beginning. The fact that a Korean rocketed beyond Earth’s gravity and beyond our atmosphere is what matters.
We have also realized our nation’s dream and passion for space. If we devote our technological power based on these energies, it is not impossible for South Korea to compete with other developed countries in space.
The race to develop outer space has already begun. It is not just the United States or Russia that have been the two major players of the space era. Japan launched its Moon probe and China succeeded in sending forth its own manned spaceship.
The reason these countries want to travel into space goes beyond mere national pride. These accomplishments have a tremendous impact on a country’s economy, scientific technology, military and defense industries. The United States and Russia succeeded in commercializing thousands of cutting-edge technologies that they developed while exploring outer space.
Countries with advanced space technology tend to dominate the world with their powerful military.
We are now in an era in which space technology determines the competitiveness of a country. South Korea will start building the Naro Space Center in June and launch a self-developed rocket in December.
We joined space development later than other countries, and we have a long way to go.
We should keep developing our skills to manufacture rockets and satellites. We also should encourage people to embrace the desire to explore the final frontier.
We hope 2008 will become a new milestone in the history of our country, the year Korea moved into the space era.