Cosmonaut to Follow His Father Into Space

ReutersFrom left, Yi, Volkov and Kononenko visiting Gagarin's grave Wednesday.
STAR CITY, Moscow Region -- A Russian in line to become the first second-generation cosmonaut to venture into outer space said there was no father-son rivalry in his family.

Sergei Volkov told reporters at Star City, the cosmonaut-training center outside Moscow, that he hoped to do as well as his father, a highly decorated cosmonaut from the Soviet era.

If his own school-age son wants to become a cosmonaut too, Volkov said, he will seriously discuss the matter with him.

"If someone decides to follow in his father's footsteps, it's a tough decision," the 34-year-old first-time space voyager said.

"It is hard to make that decision, and there is absolutely no romance about it. It is just that you want to undertake this complex and interesting line of work."

Sergei Volkov is scheduled to fly a Soyuz rocket to the international space station on April 8 along with two others, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Yi So-yeon, a South Korean bioengineering student.

Yi, who is expected to become the first South Korean citizen in space, said at a news conference Wednesday that she hoped to inspire young Koreans to study science and encourage peace between South Korea and North Korea.

She will also serve a traditional Korean dinner, she said, and may sing for her colleagues during her 10-day scientific mission.

Yi said her schedule for the flight was so jammed that she couldn't remember the titles of all 14 scientific experiments she is expected to perform.

Some of her family members are nervous about the flight, she said.

While she will be the first citizen of her country in space, "for my mother and father I am just a daughter," she said.

Regarding the spacecraft on which she will ride to the space station, Yi said she hoped to reassure them that "the Russian Soyuz is really safe, so don't worry about that." She said she would tell her mother, who prays for her every day, that "God will stare at me and help me."

Sergei Volkov is the son of Alexander Volkov, 59, a veteran cosmonaut who logged up 391 days in space on three separate space missions in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was awarded an Order of Lenin and named a Hero of the Soviet Union for his performance.

Later, Alexander Volkov helped direct the training of future cosmonauts at Star City.

Sergei Volkov said he had never felt he was competing with his father. "I just want to perform as well as my father, because there are things that he has done that nobody has been able to copy," he said.