China sending first woman in space to test module
JIUQUAN, China (AP) — China will send its first woman and two other astronauts into space Saturday to work on a temporary space station for about a week, in a key step toward becoming only the third nation to set up a permanent base in orbit.Liu Yang, a 34-year-old air force pilot, and two male colleagues will be launched Saturday aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which will dock with the bus-sized Tiangong 1 space module now orbiting at 343 kilometers (213 miles) above the Earth.
"Arranging for women astronauts to fly is not only a must for the development of human spaceflight, but also the expectation of the public," space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said. "This is a landmark event."
China's first female astronaut: Who is she? (+video)
Liu Yang, a fighter pilot, is slated to become China's first female astronaut to travel into space on Saturday.
Chinese space museum officials talk about the upcoming launch of a Chinese spacecraft that will take the first Chinese woman into space.
Yang lives in Beijing, but hails from the central Chinese province of Henan, a relatively poor but heavily populated agricultural region. According to Xinhua, the official state news agency, she is an eloquent speaker, an avid reader and a lover of cooking. She is also married, as per the China space program's requirements. According to the newspaper China Daily, female Chinese astronauts must be married and preferably be mothers, because of concerns that higher levels of radiation in space would "harm their fertility."
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