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Women astronauts set to fly by 2010
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-26 06:08

The scenario contrasts with the selection of China's first group of male astronauts, including Yang Liwei, who conducted China's maiden manned space flight nearly two years ago. Yang and his 13 colleagues, all former fighter pilots, are preparing for the country's second manned space flight, scheduled for this autumn.

"The life support and environment control systems of our launch vehicles and spacecraft will allow average people, who are physically adequate and with some training, to fulfil space missions," Hu said.

In the near future, the norm will be for Chinese astronauts, men and women, to work together as partners in journeys to outer space, he said.

He did not specify what kind of missions they would conduct together.

Astronaut Yang said "it is the norm" for countries to include women in their space programme. He did not elaborate.

Zhang Qingwei, president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, said that with the development of China's manned space programme, the country will increase scientific research in orbit. Women specializing in medicine, new materials, biology and other disciplines will all have the chance to become astronauts.

Mae C Jemison, one of three visiting US astronauts, told China Daily: "China should have women astronauts as soon as possible, even earlier than next year, because you lose out on 50 per cent of the talent that are available if you don't have women included."

Jemison, who beca
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