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  China's plans to launch a female taikonaut

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Author Topic:   China's plans to launch a female taikonaut
Tonyq
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posted 07-31-2004 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is one of numerous reports over the last few days on China's embryonic plans to launch a woman into space:
China will start training women astronauts in the next year, China Daily reported Thursday.

Candidates will be selected from senior high school graduates in good health, the report quoted Huang Chunping as saying.

Huang, director of the carrier rockets' system of China's manned space programme, made the remarks on Tuesday during a lecture held in the city of Fuzhouin East China's Fujian Province.

The All-China Women's Federation called on the central government to train women astronauts in March.

Huang said candidates will be trained to pilot an airplane first and then to learn about spacecrafts.

DavidH
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posted 08-11-2004 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Update on the female taikonaut front. As tends to happen with the Chinese space program, there's been more hype than substance.
A leading Chinese space official on Wednesday ruled out sending a female astronaut into space in the foreseeable future, but vowed that the country would one day fly someone to the moon.

"In our country we advocate equality between men and women and we say that women hold up half the sky," National Space Administration chief Sun Laiyan told reporters.

Tonyq
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posted 09-24-2005 03:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China's plans to put a woman into space aboard a Shenzhou craft appear to be moving forward very slowly.

Since the intention was first announced in March 2004, various statements and comments have reaffirmed the intent, without reporting anything concrete, other than to say the flight will take place before 2010.

In mid 2004, it was announced that a new group of female pilots would be recruited for the People's Liberation Army Air Force in 2005 from science and aviation students across China and some of these pilots could eventually be selected for the space programme. China only recruits female pilots for the PLAAF every eight years, a pattern which goes back to the early 1950's, so the previous group began training in 1997, have been in active flying roles since 2001, and are in their mid-20's.

During early 2005, reports began to appear of the selection process for the new pilots, which had to reduce some 200,000 applicants to around 30 cadet pilots. In the course of some of these reports, it was suggested that China's first woman in space would eventually come from within this group, so the selection process was tougher than for any previous group. Some reports explained that the some of the 1997 group pilots had already been evaluated for astronaut training, but that not enough had passed the tests to form a viable training female astronaut group. The spokesman also suggested the women from this group were older than the selectors were seeking and some were married. Apparently, the Chinese have determined that the ideal age for their first woman in space would no more than 25 or 26, and she should be single. Allowing a minimum of 2/3 years for training, this means candidates should be 22 or 23 when they begin training.

In July 2005, the new pilot group of 35 cadets(known as the 8th Group) were revealed via a series of press articles, both in English and Chinese. They are aged between 17 and 19 and will undertake a 4 year training programme which includes obtaining an appropriate aviation related degree and learning to fly. This will finish in spring 2009, when they will be assigned to operational roles. The reports indicate that the top 4 or 5 graduates from this programme will be assigned directly to the astronaut programme, to train as future Shenzhou pilots and commanders, and should be available for spaceflight assignments from 2012. One girl from this group, 18 year old Tao Jia Li, who was said to have achieved the top results in the selection process was chosen to meet NASA astronaut Mae Jemison during a recent visit to Beijing and is therefore being feted in the Chinese press as a future pilot astronaut.

This all stacks up reasonably logically, but doesn't hit the 2010 date for the first female flight. However, more recent reports, including one just this week quoting Yang Liwei have stated that there will be a general astronaut recruitment in 2006 which will include 4 women. Other officials have been quoted similarly over the last few weeks, stating that, as well as PLAAF pilots, engineers and scientists in the Chinese space programme will be considered. A 2/3 year training programme has again been mentioned, which makes a spaceflight by 2010 a possibility again.

Chinese space watchers have a pretty clear idea how the Chinese intend to progress their programme beyond Shenzhou VI, due to launch in 2/3 weeks.

Shenzhou VII will include a spacewalk, and whilst originally thought due in 2007, recent comments imply it could happen next year. Shenzhou VIII and Shenzhou IX should achieve the first manned docking, although they won't be in space together. The orbital module of VIII will be left on orbit to await the arrival of IX- this could happen in 2007. Very recent reports have referred to missions up to Shenzhou XI suggesting that the Chinese have a clear launch schedule running through to around 2009 0r 2010.

The Chinese are known to want to have some sort of space spectacular in place during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so perhaps need to move matters on the achieve this. At one time, there was a possibility that this could have involved a Chinese man and woman in space together, but the lack of tangible progress in the female selection process means timeframe looks impossible to achieve.

It's also unclear when they intend to move up to three person crews, but it seems almost certain that this will have to happen before the first female taikonaut is launched, too.

There are still many hurdles to clear, but, assuming there are no major setbacks over the next 3 to 4 years, it now looks possible we will see a Chinese woman in orbit around 2009.

Tonyq
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posted 04-04-2009 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some of the Chinese female pilot cadets who began training back in 2005 graduated this week as China's first ever group of jet fighter pilots. All have now been commissioned as PLAAF Lieutenants.

Sixteen (16), of the original group of 35, completed the course and passed out at the Third Aviation University.

The other 19 have gone on to other flying roles but not jet fighters.

See photos of the female fighter pilots: 1 | 2

Chinese media have consistently said that China's first female taikonauts would be chosen from this group.

In early March, China announced that they would be selecting 5 to 7 PLAAF jet pilots as their second taikonaut group this year, and that this group 'may include female taikonauts'. No other existing female PLAAF pilots meet the jet fighter pilot qualification, so their selection process must focus on this small group.

As newly commissioned pilots with only c135 hours experience, it seems unlikely they will be able to compete, on a level playing field, with more experienced male pilots, so their taikonaut selection will surely hinge on whether there is gender bias in the process.

That said, if they had no intention of selecting women, the Chinese authorities would surely have managed domestic and external expectations differently, so, on balance, it seems highly likely that 2 or 3 of these girls will be sent to join the taikonaut squad later this year.

As such, it seems reasonable to regards them all as 'taikonaut candidates'.

The women are aged between 21 and 24 and piecing together various reports, it is possible to list all their names:

  • He Xiao Li (recognised as the top cadet in this group)
  • Tao Jia Li (featured in most of the accompanying linked photos)
  • Zhang Xiaojia
  • Zhang Xiao
  • Sheng Yifei
  • Wang Xin
  • Lu Yun
  • Zhou Shuai
  • Sun Mei
  • Lu Pin
  • Li Min
  • Liu Xin
  • Zhang Xian
  • Yu Xu
  • Zhang Bo
  • Zhong Qin
Is the name of the first Chinese woman in space listed above? Time will tell.

FFrench
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posted 04-05-2009 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tonyq:
Is the name of the first Chinese woman in space listed above? Time will tell.

Not a Chinese citizen, so a little different... but interesting to note that a woman born in Shanghai, China, has already been in space five times, on the Shuttle and aboard the Mir space station...

space4u
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posted 04-05-2009 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space4u   Click Here to Email space4u     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Francis you are correct. That would be Shannon Lucid who is still doing astronaut duty as a capcom.

Tonyq
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posted 08-09-2009 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The regular flow of predictions about female taikonauts continues with Yang Liwei and Col. Sui Goushong, head of PLAAF recruitment confirming, during July, that some members of the 16 female fighter pilot group, that graduated in April 2009, will be included in the taikonaut selection.

In the meantime, the PLAAF have released posed portraits of all 16 girls, taken in a style which would not be out of place in a celebrity magazine.

Who will be the one to go up, and take a place in Chinese history?

Any like to place their bets?


Lt. Sun Mei and Lt. Tao JiaLi


Lt. Wang Xin and Lt. Yu Xu


Lt. He Xiao Li and Lt. Li Min


Lt. Liu Xin and Lt. Lu Pin

Tonyq
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posted 08-09-2009 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Lt. Lu Yun and Lt. Sheng Yifei


Lt. Zhang Xaio and Lt. Zhang Xaiojia


Lt. Zhang Bo and Lt. Zhong Qin


Lt. Zhou Shuai and Lt. Zhang Xain

Tonyq
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posted 09-18-2009 03:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In view of this announcement, it seems my research may have been misled by previous Chinese media coverage.

This latest announcement seems to contradict virtually everything the Chinese (including Yang Liwei) have been saying about female taikonauts for the last few years. It indicates the 15 female candidates are drawn from an earlier generation of transport pilots, not the new fighter pilots mentioned many times.

As the PLAAF only recruits women pilots every 8 years, it is seems almost certain that these 15 come from the group recruited in 1997, who graduated in 2001, and are now aged around 29-31, which fits the age profile given in the latest media coverage. There were originally 37 in this group, although how many remain active is impossible to say.

To have 15 make the cut out of a maximum cohort of 37, suggest that the criteria for the women may be different to the male candidates.

Also, the fact that they have already determined that they will pick only two women suggests they are looking for a 'trophy' woman in space - rather like Tereshkova - than genuine gender equality in the programme.

Tonyq
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posted 12-27-2009 09:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China announced in September that they had short-listed 15 female pilots for two places in the second group of taikonauts, but there has been no further announcement that they completed this process, or who the final two are.

However, this photo has appeared of PLAAF female transport pilot Lt. Li Lingchao, in spacesuit, at Chinese astronaut training centre conducting escape chute training. This would seem to be very specific and practical training to be putting short-listed candidates through, which suggests that this woman may be one of the two selected to actually train for a spaceflight.

She is 30 years old, married and joined the PLAAF in 1997. Here is another photo of her with her pilot husband, and her son.

In November the Chinese added to their previous announcements by stating that they would only select married women with children, due to concerns over possible sterilisation, obviously ignoring the experiences of the 50 odd flown women from USA, Russia and Europe, so this candidate ticks that box too.

Tonyq
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posted 03-05-2010 07:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Former Shenzhou chief designer Qi Faren has confirmed, in this media interview, that two female taikonauts have now been selected and are expected to be involved in the Shenzhou 9 and 10 missions, planned for 2011/12.

No names have been revealed, although another version of this report confirms they are both PLAAF pilots.

Female candidates train for space shot on Tiangong 1 next year

Chinese Political Consultative Conference member, space technology expert Qi Faren, today revealed to this newspaper, China's new generation of astronauts has already completed the selection, including two female astronauts. He also said that China's "Tiangong 1" target spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2011, and in the subsequent two years, with the Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9, and Shenzhou 10 rendezvous and docking test, and the formation of a short-term manned experiments room.

Qi Faren says China's manned spaceflight project is currently the second step - a space laboratory stage, and will be a breakthrough at this stage, four key technologies... the second key technology is the rendezvous and docking, "Tiangong 1" in space flight two years, will we have accomplished with the Shenzhou 8, 9 and 10 docking in space and has basically mastered the spacecraft rendezvous and docking technology. The third key technology for the spacecraft supplies propellant, air, water, food, etc.; the fourth key technology is the regenerative life support systems.

Qi Faren said, in the future will be launched on the Shenzhou 8 unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 manned spacecraft will each carry 2-3 astronauts. It is understood that China's new generation of astronauts, especially female astronaut, will be involved in the implementation of these tasks and participate in Shenzhou 9 or 10.

Tonyq
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posted 03-12-2010 04:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eight, of the fifteen, female candidates have now been identified in the Chinese media and basic biographies are now at Spacefacts.

There is of course, no certainty that the two who have been selected to join the second taikonaut team are in this number, although much Chinese media coverage seems to focus around Wang Yaping.

Tonyq
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posted 05-16-2010 02:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Official announcement from the the PLAAF regarding selection of China's second astronaut group, including two female military pilots.

These latest reports, plus a detailed interview with General Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country's manned space programme give several clues as to the background and identities of the two women selected.

Zhang confirmed that for several years the PLAAF had planned to select two members of the female fighter pilot training group, pictured above, and their education and training had been geared towards this. However, officials later decided that they only wanted candidates who were married and added a stipulation that they had a minimum of 600 flying hours, which none of that group could meet.

Therefore the members of an earlier generation of pilots who flew as military transport pilots were brought into consideration. There were 21 members of this group, of whom 15 were short listed for detailed assessment.

As much biographical information has been published about many of those 21 women, and General Zhang has given some details of the backgrounds of the two astronauts, it's possible to cross reference the two data sets and begin to reduce the list of possible candidates.

The latest information now tells us they:

  • Both joined the PLAAF as cadets in 1997
  • Both have aviation college degrees
  • Both aged 30+
  • Both married
  • Both hail from Northern provinces
  • At least one took part in flood relief operations in Sichuan in 2008
Applying these details to the list of 21 pilots, we can eliminate 7 or 8 names, and of those who are left, they must remain as possibles, simply because we know so little about them, that the filters cannot be applied.

Significantly, the Sichuan earthquake recovery is a useful clue. Seven female pilots took part in this work and we can eliminate four of them, which leave just three possible names.

Of these three, there are two names who also definitely tick all the criteria above and who are known to be astronaut candidates, having featured previously in Chinese media coverage of the astronaut selection process.

So, based on all known information, it seems very likely that one of these is in the final two, possibly both are.


Captain Cao Yanyan age 31, born Jinan, Shandong Province


Captain Wang Yaping age 32, born Yantai, Shandong Province

I am not saying that these two are definitely the pair chosen, but in an ever decreasing field of possible candidates, these two meet all the biographical and experience criteria. This analysis may change if any more fragments of biographical data emerge, and I am keeping a careful eye on the Chinese media for such details.

Tonyq
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posted 11-14-2010 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chinese female taikonaut identified
by Tony Quine

Sources in China have confirmed the identity of one of the two female Air Force pilots currently vying to become China's first woman in space.

Captain Wang Yaping, 32, a Transport Pilot in the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), and another currently unidentified colleague were selected in March, from a pool of fifteen female candidates, and joined five male jet fighter pilots to form China's second taikonaut group.


Capt. Wang Yaping Credit: fyjs.cn

Wang had been widely identified in the Chinese media as one of five pilots from the province of Shandong included in the group of fifteen female candidates, but Chinese space officials had refused to name any of the seven new taikonauts actually chosen, even though the names of their fourteen colleagues, selected in 1996 and 1998 are widely known. However sources in China, close to the Chinese manned space programme, have recently confirmed that Wang is now being trained at the Chinese Astronaut Training Centre, near Beijing, with another woman pilot.

Captain Wang was born in the prefecture of Yantai, in Shandong province, in April 1978. Her mother and father are farmers and she is reported to have two sisters. She is married to another PLAAF pilot, Zhao Peng, and probably has a child, as Chinese officials have previously said that only women who have already given birth would be considered for the taikonaut programme.

There are relatively few female pilots in the PLAAF, and as a result their career progress and any notable exploits are often reported in the Chinese media, and Captain Wang has featured in a number of such stories. She is known to have joined the PLAAF as a cadet in 1997, one of 37 members of the so called '7th Generation' of female pilots, and graduated from Aviation University and flight school in 2001 with the rank of First Lieutenant. In 2008, she was one of six female pilots who took part in relief flights after a major earthquake in Sichuan Province and later that year, she was reported to have been involved in flights related to cloud seeding and weather modification for the Olympic Games in Beijing. She has over 1100 flying hours on her log book.

Whilst China has not given a official details of when it intends to send Captain Wang, or her unidentified colleague into space, several statements from leading officials, including Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in space, strongly suggest that they are aiming for the two or three person, Shenzhou 10 mission, currently planned to dock with the Tiangong 1 orbital module in late 2012.

dom
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posted 11-15-2010 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well done Tony, a nice piece of detective work!

Tonyq
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posted 11-17-2010 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
Well done Tony, a nice piece of detective work!
Thanks Dom for the kind words. It has been a long road getting to this point, with the Chinese changing their selection strategy more than once and sending me down a few dead ends, as the thread above shows.

Wang first hit my radar back in 2004, when she and four colleagues were profiled on the official PLAAF website. Here is a photo from that era of her looking very attractive.

Two of her colleagues from that 2004 feature are still on my very short list of 'possibles' to be the other woman!

Philip
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posted 11-18-2010 05:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Indeed great work Tony...

Tonyq
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posted 10-01-2011 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After a period of inactivity on this topic, the publicity surrounding the TG-1 launch and planning for SZ-8 has re-kindled Chinese media comment about their female taikonaut selection.

There are many quotes circulating from officials close to the programme that they are considering including a woman in the crew of SZ-10, in late 2012 or early 2013.

However, they do not give any names officially, and in the usual Chinese style, they fall short of saying that this is a definite plan.

This suggestion has sent the local media into overdrive with literally hundreds of news reports openly naming Wang Yaping as having being selected as the first Chinese woman in space. However her name is never mentioned in any of the official comments so difficult to know exactly where these stories originate.

The respected Go Taikonauts! is reporting that Wang is actually assigned to SZ-10.

There is not the slightest hint in all this, who the other female taikonaut is, although interestingly, one official did say that it wasn't necessary for the women to have had children (which was an earlier Chinese selection criteria) as SZ-10 would only be a short flight and there were no issues about fertility. This might imply that the other woman does not have children and may not even be married.

MSS
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posted 10-31-2011 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MSS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua reports that China is mulling over sending female "taikonauts" into space.
China is considering sending female astronauts into space during its space docking missions next year, a chief designer for the astronaut program said Monday.

Two female astronauts have been selected for possible flights when spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and -10 are scheduled to dock with space lab module Tiangong-1 in 2012, said Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China (ACC).

"We must assess both male and female astronauts to verify if human beings can live in space as there are huge differences between men and women in spite of their common generalities," Chen said in an exclusive interview ahead of the launch of Shenzhou-8 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

"Space exploration activities would be incomplete without the participation of female astronauts," Chen said.

Chen did not disclose the names of the two female astronauts, but said both of them are married and around 30 years old.

China's manned space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said at a Monday press briefing that at least one of the two missions will be manned.

Wu said the crew members of nine have already been selected for the two space docking missions in 2012 and are being trained with manual docking skills.

Chen said the seven male crew members are from the country's first batch of 14 astronauts, which includes Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut into space in 2003, and Zhai Zhigang, the first to conduct an extra vehicular activity (EVA) in 2008.

The two female astronauts, both airfreighter pilots before their enrollment, are from the second batch of astronauts from late 2009 and early 2010, according to Chen.

Tonyq
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posted 11-01-2011 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although Chinese crewing policy is difficult (even impossible) to predict, as we have little history to go on, the most obvious assumption is that there are 3 x 3 person crews from this training group of 9 -almost certainly 1 crew of 3 men and 2 crews of 2 men/1 woman.

Indeed, with only around six months until the SZ-9 mission and probably less than 12 until SZ-10, based on US and Russian practice, prime and back-up crews are likely assigned already to these missions.

Assuming that 3 men fly SZ-9, it will be interesting to see if one of the woman appears in the back-up crew, or is kept below the radar until their own flight on SZ-10?

Tonyq
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posted 12-28-2011 06:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whilst I have some spare time over the holiday period, it is perhaps appropriate to draw a line under this saga, which I have been participating in regularly for over seven years!

As disclosed in this thread a few weeks ago and despite a continuing lack of official information from China, we now know that the two women selected for taikonaut training in 2010 were:

Captain Wang Yaping (left) and Major Liu Yang

As expected, both were drafted for spaceflight training from the People's Liberation Army Air Force, where they were both career transport pilots. Both were 31 years old at the time of their selection having joined the PLAAF from school in 1997, and graduated from Aviation College in 2001. They are both married and, based in previous comments from China, each probably has a child.

Wang was first identified as a likely candidate in March 2010 and her selection was confirmed unofficially in November that year.

Liu was known to this writer as a member of the so called 7th Generation of female pilots in the PLAAF, but coming from Henan Province, she did not appear to meet the earlier criteria mentioned by General Zhang Jianqi in May 2010, that 'both hail from the North'. For that reason, she has not appeared in this thread previously.

Wang's name has been regularly reported in the Chinese media since September 2011, and since both identities were revealed on cS, a small number of Chinese news sites now have reported Liu's name too.

Compared to their male colleagues selected in 1998, Wang and Liu have been placed on an accelerated training schedule as, having completed basic training in little over a year, they have been quickly placed in the advance training group for the forthcoming manned docking missions to Tiangong 1, Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10. The Chinese have stated that this group consists of seven men from the 1998 selection plus the two women and that the two crews who will fly in 2012, will be selected from this pool.

In view of this fast paced training regime, it would seem that despite the slow selection process, the authorities are now keen to get a Chinese woman into orbit quickly, and it seems likely that whoever flies will do so as something akin to a 'Spaceflight Participant' rather than as a fully fledged pilot-taikonaut.

Whatever the chosen woman's precise role, it does seem that barring some training or technical setback, one of the pair will be sent into space at some point in 2012. Indeed, some Chinese websites have reported that Captain Wang has already been chosen to be China's first woman in space, and that she will be launched onboard Shenzhou 10. But, taking into account the many other reports, rumours and speculations coming out of China, there may yet be other twists and turns ahead, in this tale.

Tonyq
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posted 03-07-2012 08:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Chinese seem to have moved the plans for their female taikonauts forward to Shenzhou 9, although still hedging their bets on final crew selection.
Two prospective female astronauts are busy preparing for the launch of China's manned Shenzhou-9 spacecraft. However, it is not yet certain whether China will have its first space-bound female astronaut, a member of the China People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said Monday at the annual session of the CPPCC, China's top political advisory body.

Speaking about the possible make-up of the Shenzhou-9 crew, Qi Faren, the former chief designer of China's manned spacecraft system, said: "There will be three crew members aboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and two prospective female astronauts are currently undergoing training. I hope they [the prospective female astronauts] would be launched into space."

Tonyq
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posted 05-09-2012 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A senior Chinese official has confirmed the inclusion of a female taikonaut in the crew of Shenzhou 9.

Speaking at a ceremony, held on 5th May, to mark the departure of the Long March booster to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, Chinese Academy of Launch Technology, Commander in Chief, Liu Yu commented that the rocket would be used to carry China's first woman into space, together with two other astronauts.

The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft itself has been at Jiuquan since 9th April.

Photos of the ceremony and a Chinese language report can be found here.

The rocket should reach the launch site in the next few days. Based upon the process and assembly flows of the previous Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8 missions, it should be ready for launch by mid-June, although analysts following the orbital track of Tiangong 1, which Shenzhou 9 will dock with, two days after launch, suggest that Tiangong 1 will need to make an adjustment to its orbit to rendezvous in this time frame. The Chinese media, and officials are still referring to launch within a 'June to August' window, but with the hardware all at Jiuquan imminently, it is clear they are working towards a launch at the earlier part of that timeframe.

There has been no official indication of the identity of the Shenzhou 9 prime and back-up crews. Some Chinese language forums have reported that PLAAF pilot, Major Liu Yang, 33, has been already selected for the Shenzhou 9 prime crew, and will become China's first woman in space, but it is impossible to judge whether these reports have any veracity. Chinese officials have previously said that the crew would not be selected until the final days before launch.

eurospace
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posted 06-11-2012 05:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A chinese source has indicated that the launch of Shenzhou 9 is likely to take place this Saturday, 16 June 2012.

No details about the names yet, but the flight of the woman taikonaut is mentioned.

Tonyq
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posted 06-11-2012 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are numerous news stories on Chinese and English language websites, highlighting the apparent 'competition' between Wang Yaping and Liu Yang to be the first Chinese woman in space. This is an example.

Whilst the Chinese could stop such speculation by making an official announcement, they seem quite happy to allow it to take place.

In addition, photos have been released today of the two crews undertaking a 'solemn flag raising ceremony' yesterday (Sunday). As a result the two crews have been identified as:

  • Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang, Wang Yaping
  • Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang, Liu Yang
There is speculation on Chinese websites as to which crew is the prime crew, and conflicting conclusions are being drawn, so we need to await a formal announcement, hopefully in the next few days.

eurospace
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Posts: 2275
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 06-13-2012 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Facebook, Jacques van Oene gives a certain "Chen Quan" as 2nd crew member of the Nie Haisheng crew. What is correct?

Tonyq
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From: UK
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 06-14-2012 04:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chen Quan seems to be a misidentification by some observers. Chinese sources are quoting the crews as above.

Although the crew will not be officially named until tomorrow morning, the focus on Liu Yang in the Chinese media suggest it it now almost certain that the Jing/Liu/Liu crew will be named to fly the mission.

eurospace
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Posts: 2275
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 06-14-2012 05:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My source in China lets me know that Chinese news carried the names of Jing Haipeng and the two Liu's as being the flight crew.

The crew composition also indicates that for the first time, China is "recycling" taikonauts for a 2nd spaceflight, in the role of commander.

Robonaut
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From: Solihull, West Mids, England
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 06-15-2012 03:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robonaut   Click Here to Email Robonaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At the pre-launch press conference Friday morning the Jing/Liu/Liu crew were confirmed.

Philip
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Posts: 4803
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 06-18-2012 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Logic that a Major made it over a Captain.

Now we can start guessing who will be the first female "Taikonette" on the Moon!

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