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Chinese footprints in outer space
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China unveiled on Wednesday the finalists of the three astronauts who will pilot the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft. Before them, namely Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, seven Chinese citizens and Chinese descendants entered the outer space. Here are the resumes of the seven astronauts:

Talor Gun-Jin Wang: Wang was born in Jiangsu Province. He moved to Taiwan in 1952 with his family and received his PhD degree in 1971. He became the first ethnic Chinese to go into space flying on STS-51B Challenger as a laboratory expert during April 29 to May 6, 1985. During his visit to the Chinese mainland in July, 1985, he presented a Chinese national flag, which was carried onboard the spaceship, to the Chinese government.

Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz: With ancestry in Bao'an, Guangdong Province, he was born in Costa-Rica. Clinching his doctorate in Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977, he was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard STS-61-C on Jan 12, 1986. He has stayed in the outer space for more than 1,600 hours including 19-hour-and-31-minute of spacewalk until 2003.

Leroy Chiao: With ancestry in Shandong Province, he was born in Wisconsin of the United States in 1950. A veteran of three space flights, Chiao flew as a mission specialist in 1994, 1996 and 2000. He has logged over 36 days and 12.5 hours in space, including over 26 EVA hours in four space walks. As of 2005, he was assigned as Commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition 10, which launched aboard a Soyuz on Oct 14, 2004.

Edward Tsang Lu: Born in the Massachusetts of United States as the son of a pair of the first generation of the Chinese immigration, Lu was qualified as a mission specialist in 1994. He flew on space shuttle missions STS-84 in 1997 and STS-106 2000, in which he carried out a six-hour-14-minute spacewalk, a human record, to perform construction work on the International Space Station.

Yang Liwei: Born in June 1965 in Suizhong County of northeast China's Liaoning Province, Yang is China's first astronaut piloting the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft. He graduated from the No. 8 Aviation College of the PLA Air Force in 1987 and was selected as a member of China's first team of astronauts in 1998. He was chosen as one of the finalists to be the country's first astronaut for his excellent performance in the five-year training. On July 22 2008, the General Armament Department of People's Liberation Army promoted Yang to the military rank of major general.

Fei Junlong: Born in 1965, Fei is from Kunshan in east China's Jiangsu Province. He was selected as one of the five astronaut candidates in intensified training for China's first manned space flight -- Shenzhou-5. On Oct 12, 2005, he, together with Nie Haisheng, piloted the Shenzhou-6 and fulfilled the multi-day and multi-manned space mission.

Nie Haisheng: Born in 1964, Nie came from Zaoyang, central China's Hubei Province. He was selected as one of the three finalists for Shenzhou-5, and went into orbit, along with Fei Junlong in the five-day Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2008)

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