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South Korea selects its first two astronauts

Avi Blizovsky

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South Korea will select during the coming year its first two astronauts to be launched in 2008. This is what South Korea's science minister said on Sunday after Russia agreed to help the country's space program.
The two will train in Russia for 18 months and be launched to the International Space Station for ten days to conduct some experiments. South Korean President Roh Mo-yeon met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in October and the two signed a joint agreement that includes cooperation in space.
As part of the agreement, Russia will also assist the South Korean space program, which is mainly intended for launching satellites. Placing two people in space will cost South Korea 26 billion won - which is about 23 million dollars, but the Minister of Science did not specify how much money will be paid to Russia.
Russia has so far sold two seats on Soyuz spacecraft that took off to the space station to two space tourists to help the superpower's tight space budget.

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