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Oceanauts to receive astronaut training

By Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-02 08:09

Oceanauts recruited to operate deep-sea submersibles will soon receive training fit for astronauts as China pushes its dual ambitions to reach farther into space and deeper under the sea.

The National Deep Sea Center and the Astronaut Center of China signed an agreement on Thursday to cooperate in training personnel and researching science and technology projects.

"Operators in manned deep-sea diving and manned space flights endure highly similar pressures and risks, and the cooperation will crucially affect personnel selection, training and project research in extreme environments," said Yang Liwei, vice-director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office and who is also the country's first astronaut.

Under the agreement, the astronaut training center will host oceanauts for one month a year from 2014 to 2016 to hone their physical fitness and knowledge.

The NDSC manages China's Jiaolong manned deep-sea submersible program and supervises the selection and training of oceanauts for the project. They include two veterans and six recruits selected in December of last year.

Jiaolong, China's first manned deep-sea submersible, reached 7,062 meters in the Pacific's Mariana Trench in a dive in June 2012, making it possible for the country to conduct deep-sea exploration in 99.8 percent of the world's oceans. It is now returning to make scientific dives in the Pacific Ocean.

China has conducted four space missions since 2011, including sending space lab Tiangong-1 into orbit and the rendezvous and docking of Tiangong-1 with spacecraft Shenzhou-10.

Launching a cargo ship into space, completing a space station and sending men to the moon are all on the country's space agenda.

With training due to kick off in August, NDSC director Yu Hongjun expected the sea-sky partnership to help build a mature training mechanism for China's oceanauts.

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