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China Sending Their First Women To Space Is Even Closer To Reality
by Jill Pantozzi | 4:15 pm, March 12th, 2012
Back in December, we brought you the news that the identities of the possible first Chinese women taikonauts (their word for astronauts) may have inadvertently leaked thanks to a stamp collector in Germany. Now we’ve got some more concrete proof as an unspecified number of women have passed through to final training for the space mission.
We knew China was training individuals for space travel but we only learned the names of two possible women included in that training because of signatures on a letter. Wang Yaping and Liu Yang were two of seven signatures. We can’t say for sure whether they are the two in the running now but odds are good. The question is, will they make the final cut?
According to AFP, “Three astronauts will blast off on board Shenzhou (“Divine Vessel”) IX between June and August to conduct a manual docking with the Tiangong-1 module currently orbiting the Earth, Xinhua news agency said, quoting an official with China’s manned space programme.”
Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program said the three-person crew will be chosen at the last minute. “Tiangong-1, China’s first space station module, was launched in September,” writes AFP and the astronauts will stop there to perform scientific experiments before moving on to Shenzhou IX. “The mission is the latest step in a programme aimed at giving China a permanent space station by 2020.”
Dozens of women from other countries have traveled to outer space but since their first manned space mission in 2003, China has yet to send a woman. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman ever in space, recently turned 75.
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