China chooses two female astronauts

By Ren Zhongxi
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, March 9, 2010
Adjust font size:

According to senior military officials attending the annual NPC and CPPCC sessions, China's new generation of astronauts has been selected. The five men and two women were chosen from 30 male and 15 female candidates. This is the first time China has recruited women to its space program. One of the selection criteria was that the women must be married and have borne children.

The names of the two spacewomen were not released but at least 5 of the 15 female candidates come from Shandong Province and speculation surrounded their names. Wang Yaping from Yantai City flew rescue missions during the Sichuan earthquake, and rain reduction missions for the Beijing Olympics. Xing Lei is the only straight-A student in the Air Force Academy, and Liu Lu is a skilled pilot who also studies literature and is an expert on the Chinese classic novel A Dream of Red Mansions. Cao Yanyan comes from an air force family. Her husband and mother-in-law are both pilots. Sun Jing lives for her flying.

Space technologist and NPC deputy Qi Faren said one or two female astronauts are currently in training but said no decisions about the timing of space flights have been made. Astronaut training usually lasts five years and the tutors are Chinese who were trained by the Russian space program.

Tiangong I is scheduled to be launched in 2011. Three rendezvous docking experiments with Shenzhou VIII, Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X will be carried out and a temporary manned laboratory will be set up. China's new generation of astronauts, especially the female ones, are probably to take part in these tasks.

Director of PLA's Aeromedicine Center Xu Xianrong said: "China's manned space flight project had just begun when we chose the first astronauts. We didn't have any experience at that time so we made the selection standards very strict and the astronauts were almost perfect in every aspect."

The hospital has revised the standards in recent years. "The current standard is customized to Chinese people. Many foreign criteria don't work for our astronauts. Now we know what we should focus on and where we can relax the requirements."

Female candidates have been a focus of the selection process. Xu said that females had to reach the same standard as males but criteria were slightly different. According to Xu, spacewomen have several valuable qualities. They are more patient, sensitive and considerate than men. They have better psychological and communication skills and they can also put up with loneliness better than men.

Talking about the requirement that women should be married, Xu said it was the result of concern for the women. "Though there is no evidence that space flight affects women's health, we erred on the cautious side because this is a first for China." Xu said.

Other standards for Chinese astronauts include:

Age: 25-35

Height: 1.6m-1.75m

Weight: 55-70 kilograms

Other standards: clearly spoken, no strong accent, no drug, smoking or alcohol addictions, no dietary restrictions, can fall asleep easily, do not snore.

Fast Facts:

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei blasted off on the Shenzhou V spacecraft on Oct. 15, 2003.

China launched Shenzhou VI with astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng on

Oct. 12, 2005. The third manned spacecraft Shenzhou VII was launched with astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng on Sep. 25, 2008. Zhai carried out an extravehicular mission wearing a Chinese-made Feitian space suit.


Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comments

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from