- Chinese women in space
China is expected to launch its first woman in space no later than 2012. Following the successful piloted flight of Shenzhou 5 in October 2003, China announced plans to send a woman into space as well.
Gu Xiulian, president of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), told a gathering that she proposed that women, too, should be trained for space missions after China's first piloted space trip. Her proposal was accepted by the central authorities, according to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily in March 2004.
On July 26, 2005, Hu Shixiang, deputy chief commander of the piloted space program of China, told the China Daily that women astronauts would work as flight commanders or on-board engineers. In 2006 the first group of four were due to be selected from a pool including professional pilots, scientists and doctors, but this did not happen.
In September 2004, Chinese "space watchers" had identified one female astronaut candidate, Major Guo Liman, age 32 and an experienced PLAAF flight instructor, as the possible favorite to make the first flight, although in view of the emergence of the 2005 group of female pilots, this now seems less likely.
On July 28 an officer in the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) said 35 women had been selected for pilot training, which would also include elements of astronaut training. They were chosen from 200,000 high school graduates and were between 17 and 20 years old. Their training would take four years at the Aviation University of Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force. Subsequent statements suggested that upon graduation in 2009, the leading members of this group will form China's first female astronaut team.
In April 2009, 16 members of the 2005 group of pilot cadets graduated as China's first female fighter pilots. They were named in the Chinese media as Lieutenants He Xiao Li, 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, Tao Jia Li, and Zhong Qin.
In July 2009, China's first man in space, Yang Liwei and Colonel Sui Guosheng, the People's Liberation Army Air Force officer in charge of astronaut recruitment both confirmed that female candidates were in the process of being selected from the group of 16 female fighter pilots.
Although China has not given a firm date as to when it will send a woman into space, Western observers[who?] believe the Shenzhou 10 mission, due to be launched in 2011 or 2012, is a likely time.
Later in July 2009, Chinese websites unofficially suggested that 23-year-old Lieutenant Tao Jiali, a native of Chengdu in Sichuan province had been chosen as the first female astronaut candidate.
- "Chinese women astronauts set to fly by 2010". Xinhua News Agency. 2005-07-26. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-07/26/content_3267411.htm.
- "China starts training its first group of women astronauts". People's Daily. July 28, 2005. http://english.people.com.cn/200507/28/eng20050728_198725.html.
- "China's 1st batch of female jet fighter pilots to debut at National Day parade". April 2, 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/02/content_11122092.htm.
- "China to put first Chinese woman in space". July 9, 2009. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-07/09/content_8399340.htm.
- "Tao Jiali is first female astronaut candidate". July, 2009. http://www.hudong.com/wiki/%E9%99%B6%E4%BD%B3%E8%8E%89.
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