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Preliminary selection of new astronauts finished, 1/3 women
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The preliminary selection for candidates of China's second-batch of astronauts has finished, with candidates including 30 men and 15 women who are all airforce pilots, authorities said Thursday.

Among them, five men and two women would be final candidates to join the space program.

It was the first time women had been up for selection in China's space development cause, authorities said.

The 45 candidates, with an average age of 30, would undergo another round of tests, including physiological and psychological checks, an air force official said.

He said the male candidates were fighter plane pilots and the female candidates were aero-transport pilots. All serve in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and at least held college degrees.

Many of them had conducted important flight missions such as rescue tasks for the massive Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008 in southwestern Sichuan Province, and various military drills.

The authorities said they "all master excellent flight skills and boast great psychological quality."

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2009)

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