- Language Tips
BEIJING - It won't be China's mythological moon goddess Chang'e this time, but a real Chinese woman.
Crew on the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft, scheduled to be launched sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, has been a hot topic among Chinese citizens over the past several days.
What fascinate netizens is that the crew might probably include a female.
Combination photos of Wang Yaping (L) and Liu Yang, female astronaut candidates for the soon-to-be-launched Shenzhou-9 spacecraft shown in the New Express, a Guangzhou-based newspaper on June 11, 2012. [Photo/New Express]
Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the country's manned space program, said in March that the three-person crew on Shenzhou-9 might include female astronauts.
Although Niu said the final selection would be decided "on the very last condition," Chinese Internet users are eager to guess who will become the country's first woman in space.
Photos of two women candidates have been circulated over the Internet in the last few days.
Although space officials have not disclosed any information of the crew on Shenzhou-9, Chinese Internet users have already voiced their great pride in the upcoming space mission that will be thrust into space from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu province.
Who will become China's first woman in space has ranked one of the top 10 hot topics on Sina Weibo, the country's most popular microblogging site, with more than 32 million posts on the topic by midday Wednesday.
"How I envy them! I had dreamed of becoming a female astronaut when I was a child. I will definitely watch the live TV broadcast, " remarked Sina Weibo user "Cang Er Duo."
"It is said that they can bring non-toxic, pollution-free cosmetics into the space. I really want to know what brands of cosmetics they will carry," "Shuang Zi Xiao Jiu Ge" posted on the site.
"No matter who will become China's first female astronaut, she will be a pride of all Chinese women," said user "wenxuan0619."
Space officials said all systems relevant to the space docking mission have arrived at the launch center, where experts have finished various activities to check the conditions of equipment and maintain the physical conditions of astronauts.
The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft mission successfully completed its first full-system drill on Tuesday afternoon, and everything went well, officials said.
The spacecraft will face thunder, high temperatures and other adverse weather tests ahead of its launch, experts said Monday.
China launched its manned space program in 1999. It successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country's first astronaut, into orbit on the Shenzhou V spacecraft in 2003.
"It is not important who will be sent into space this time. The important thing is that Chinese female astronauts will be written into the world's aerospace history," "Ping Yuan Bu Ping" said on Sina Weibo.