updated 9/4/2007 6:09:27 PM ET 2007-09-04T22:09:27

The name of South Korea's first astronaut — who will fly on a Russian Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station early next year — will be announced Wednesday, an official said.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will select either Ko San, a 30-year-old man, or Yi Soo-yeon, a 29-year-old woman following performance and other tests during their training in Russia, the official said Tuesday. He asked not to be named because the decision on a candidate was not yet final.

The astronaut will work on the International Space Station for about a week with two Russian cosmonauts in April, conducting scientific experiments.

The official said the backup astronaut will also continue to receive further training should the selected astronaut not be able to carry out the space mission.

South Korea is scheduled to complete the country's first space center in Goheung, 473 kilometers (293 miles) south of Seoul, by the end of next year, a move aimed at laying technical and scientific groundwork for eventual space exploration in coming decades.

Since 1992, South Korea has had 11 satellites launched, mostly for space and ocean observation and communications, according to the ministry.

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