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Female oceanauts to steer manned sub Jiaolong

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-22 02:18

QINGDAO - Female oceanauts are being considered to steer China's record-breaking submersible Jiaolong, after the country sent its first female astronaut into space last year, officials have announced.

The National Deep Sea Center in east China's Shandong province will train a second group of six oceanauts, including two women, for the sub's future missions, director of the center Liu Feng said Tuesday.

Liu said training was expected to start in September or October and will last one or two years.

Jiaolong set a new national dive record after reaching 7,062 meters deep in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench in June 2012, demonstrating China's ability to conduct deep-sea scientific research and resource exploration in 99.8 percent of the world's oceans.

The sub will submerge again in June for a four-month scientific research in the South China Sea and the northeast Pacific Ocean.

The mission will mark the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it starts regular operation, an official with the State Oceanic Administration said earlier this year.

The sub will be operated by two male oceanauts in the mission, but they will not be the only ones on board the sub, Liu said.

"The upcoming mission will feature scientists as passengers, and among the nearly 20 scientists who have applied are females," Liu said.

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