In the coming days, the People s Republic of China will become theeighth country to see one of its female citizens in space, and justthe third country to put them there with its own technology . More Related to this Story China announces plan for manned space launch this month SpaceX capsule returns to Earth ending revolutionary space voyage SpaceX capsule prepares to dock at space station But the name of the first female taikonaut remains a closelyguarded secret in the countdown to the expected launch of theShenzhou-9 spacecraft on Saturday. And the woman who is sure to behailed as a Chinese national hero as soon as she reaches orbitappears to have been chosen based on some bizarre criteria thatwere not applied to the Shenzhou-9 s two male crewmembers. According to several of China s top space experts, to beconsidered for the mission, female taikonauts needed to be marriedand to have given birth naturally. Xu Xianrong, a professor withthe General Hospital of the People s Liberation Army Air Force,said recently that the additional qualifications would “ensure[the woman s] body and mental condition was mature enough.”(All taikonaut candidates are chosen from the ranks of the PLA AirForce s fighter pilots .) Such criteria would have excluded Roberta Bondar, who in 1992became the first Canadian woman in space when the United Statesspace shuttle Discovery blasted into orbit.
Ms. Bondar remainsunmarried at age 66 . The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union,only got married to fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev six monthsafter she flew on the Vostok-6 mission on June 16, 1963. (Ms.Tereshkova made history 49 years to the day before Saturday splanned launch of the Shenzhou-9.) “There s no evidence that shows space life impacts womenphysiologically, but after all this is the first time for China [tosend a woman into space].
We must do it more carefully,” Prof.Xu said in remarks carried by China National Radio on Monday. Major Liu Yang and Captain Wang Yaping, the two women who havereportedly emerged as the finalists from a group of seven femaletaikonauts that began training in 2009, are both 34-year-oldmarried mothers, with one child each. “They are selected asmembers of the first batch of female astronauts in China because oftheir excellent flight skills and psychological quality,” theofficial Xinhua newswire reported . Major Liu and Captain Wang also appear to have been subjected tofurther screening that would seem to have little to do with theircapabilities. According to a recent issue of Space Internationalmagazine, which is produced by the state-run China Academy of SpaceTechnology and thus seen as representing the government s view ofthe space program, any women chosen for space missions had to beodour-free and have flawless skin. Unlock Huawei Dongle
Female taikonauts “even must not have decayed teeth becauseany small flaw might cause great trouble or a disaster inspace,” Pang Zhihao, the managing editor of SpaceInternational said in remarks printed by the official China Dailynewspaper. A scar might open and start bleeding in space, heexplained, while cramped conditions would “intensify bodyodour.” (Smelly men didn t seem to be a problem for Mr. Pang .) While Major Liu and Captain Wang have far less training than theirmale counterparts less than three years of preparation versusthe standard 14 years Mr. Pang noted female astronauts tend tobe “keen and sensitive with better communication skills thantheir male counterparts.” Mr. China Huawei Mobile Hotspot
Pang refused to clarify his remarks when contacted Monday byThe Globe and Mail. “We have regulations. I m not allowed toaccept interviews from the foreign media,” he said whenreached by telephone. The South China Morning Post reported Monday that Major Liu, whohails from northeastern Jilin province, “is known for beingtough . When she made her first skydive, she did not immediatelycall her family to tell them she was safe.” Meanwhile CaptainWang, from coastal Shandong province, “registered the topscores in the aviation theory examination for two consecutive years .” An article on the website of the China Academy of Space Technologysaid that whichever woman was not chosen for the Shenzhou-9 tripwould likely be selected for the subsequent Shenzhou-10 mission. China Sierra Wireless Router
The Shenzhou-9 is already in place at its Gobi Desert launch pad,atop the Long March 2-F rocket that will carry it into spaceSaturday, conditions permitting. The planned 10-day mission is asignificant step forward for China s space program. If all goeswell, the crew will carry out the first manned docking with theTiangong-1, a laboratory module that was put into orbit last falland which Beijing hopes will eventually serve as the basis for itsown space station. While space pioneers the United States and Russia have scaled backtheir extraterrestrial ambitions in recent years, China has beenrapidly expanded its space program since 2003, when it first put aman into space.
Beijing wants to have its space station operational by 2020, aroundthe same time when funding runs out for the multi-nationInternational Space Station that was launched in 1998. A mannedmoon expedition which would be the first by any country since1972 is planned for sometime between 2025 and 2030.