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Fourth generation of astronauts shortlisted

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2023-05-30 01:48
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More than 100 candidates have been shortlisted for China's fourth generation of astronauts, including over 10 from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, according to a space official.

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, said at a news conference on Monday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China that some 100 candidates have passed initial selection and they are competing for up to 14 places at the Astronaut Center of China.

"The spacecraft pilots will be chosen from aviators now serving in the Chinese armed forces. The spaceflight engineers will be selected from researchers and technicians in aerospace or related industries. The science payload specialists will be chosen from scientists working on space science and technology," Lin said.

China started recruiting the country's fourth generation of astronauts in October 2022. The recruitment and selection processes are due to be completed before the end of this year, according to the space agency.

Experts will pick 12 to 14 candidates for the new generation of astronauts. Among them, seven to eight will be pilots, three to four will be spaceflight engineers and two will be science payload specialists.

The selection of the fourth generation is the first time that people from Hong Kong and Macao have an opportunity to join the country's astronaut group.

"If the Hong Kong and Macao candidates can pass all tests and are picked by the experts, they will be sent to the astronaut center at the beginning of next year. Generally speaking, an astronaut will be cleared for his or her first spaceflight after about two-and-a-half years of training, but that is subject to mission plans and developments," Lin said.

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