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Yang Liwei: China will put a woman in space
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China's astronaut program is starting a new round of recruitment according to program chief Chen Shanguang.

China's first man in space, Yang Liwei, now deputy director of the astronaut training center said recruitment will begin after the Shenzhou VII mission completes. He also said that selection standards for astronauts had been revised.

One of the changes is that the height of astronauts was previously restricted to 1.72 meters, but the latest spacecraft can accommodate taller space travelers.

Yang also said that as astronauts are called on to carry out increasingly complex experiments in space, the program will put more emphasis on recruiting candidates with high academic attainments. There would also be a need for people with foreign language skills.

"We are in the early stages of space exploration. Our astronauts have to shoulder all of the work. They may double up as chief instructor as well as chief engineer,"said Yang. "But in the future, there will be specialized engineers and other experts flying with them.”

Yang went on to say that although there were currently no female astronauts in training, he is confident that women will soon be taking part in the program. "We have conducted studies to investigate the specific requirements for female astronauts. Many university students are very interested in space flight and have volunteered to help us with the experiments,"said Yang.

Yang said he is sure female astronauts will be selected for future missions. "In the not too distant future, China will send a woman into space,"he said.

(China.org.cn by Huang Shan, September 26, 2008)

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