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Women In Training for Future Spaceflights

Women taikonauts, or astronauts, are being trained for space missions, and China also can train foreign astronauts in a space program with Chinese characteristics.

China has begun to work on standards to select women taikonauts, said an official with the China Space Center.

Chen Shanguang, director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center, said scientists are studying the impact of space flight on women. Although only men have traveled in space, China is studying comparative physiology and learning from the experience of US women astronauts.

China will conduct many experiments to determine the exact differences between men and women in space.

As women taikonauts have different requirements about environment and life in a spacecraft, Chinese researchers will have to make extensive studies. These include developing new space suits and devices to collect women's excrement.

China's Air Force Aeronautics University welcomed 35 women pilot trainees for the eighth time in July this year. Experts say the country's first group of female fighter pilots may emerge from them and the first female Chinese taikonaut may be selected from among them.

"My dream is to become China's first female fighter pilot and first female taikonaut," said Tao Jiali, a student from southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Meanwhile, a senior space official said China now has the technology to train foreign astronauts.

Wu Chuansheng said the China Space Center has added the goal of training foreign astronauts to its development agenda.

The center now has the technology to train foreign astronauts, but more training facilities are yet to be built and established, Wu added.

The flight of the Shenzhou VI has further demonstrated that China is the third nation capable of independently training astronauts.

(China Daily October 17, 2005)

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