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Prominent S. Korean aerospace expert dies

All Headlines 14:17 March 06, 2010

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- Aerospace expert Chou Kyong-chol, nicknamed by South Koreans as "Dr. Apollo" after the historic U.S. spacecraft, died Saturday, his family said. He was 81.

Chou, a former chairman of the Korea Astronomical Society, died around 10:10 a.m. Saturday after a long struggle against heart disease, according to his family.

Born 1929 in Sunchon, now within North Korean territory, Chou came to South Korea with his father just before the 1950-53 Korean War broke out, leaving his mother and brother in the communist country.

After majoring in physics at Seoul's Yonsei University, Chou earned a master's degree in astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a researcher at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration before returning to Seoul in 1968.

Serving as a professor at his alma mater and Seoul's Kyunghee University for most of his lifetime, Chou strove to mentor young students in a country with somewhat weak academic interest in the fields of astronomy and aerospace.

Chou earned the nickname "Dr. Apollo" after he fell from his seat in excitement while interpreting a live U.S. broadcast about the spacecraft's first landing on the moon.

Chou, who also served as the chairman of the Korea Space Science Society, set up his own research institute in 1992.

He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

hayney@yna.co.kr
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