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HK, Macao astronauts among 10 picked by mainland

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2024-06-11 09:05
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The mainland has selected 10 new astronauts, including two from Hong Kong and Macao, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The agency said in a news release on Tuesday morning that the newly selected astronauts-eight spacecraft pilots and two science payload specialists-are the fourth batch of members at the Astronaut Center of China, located in the northwestern suburb of Beijing.

Both of the science payload specialists have been chosen from applicants from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, it noted.

Next, the new astronauts are scheduled to start systemic and comprehensive training at the Astronaut Center of China.

Along with the advances in the international cooperation in China's manned space programs, foreign nationals will also be selected to be trained as astronauts and take part in missions to China's Tiangong space station, according to the agency.

According to information previously published by the agency, the spacecraft pilots would be chosen from aviators serving in the Chinese armed forces.

China started selecting the country's fourth generation of astronauts in October 2022.

It is the first time that people from Hong Kong and Macao have an opportunity to join the country's astronaut group.

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, according to space officials.

Space program observers have said that the fourth-generation astronauts will be tasked with both serving inside the Tiangong space station and fulfilling the nation's manned missions to the moon.

Before the fourth group, China had 39 astronauts from three generations. Among them, 22 have taken part in 13 flight missions, including the latest Shenzhou XVIII. Several in the first generation who had not taken part in any spaceflights during their service have already retired.

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