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China to send woman into space
Updated: 2004-03-07 17:18

After putting a man in space for the first time in October last year, China plans to train female astronauts for space voyages, the country's largest women's organization confirmed in Beijing Sunday.

"China will soon start to train its own female astronauts," Gu Xiulian, president of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), announced at an awarding ceremony for the country's female model judges Saturday afternoon in Beijing, just days before the "March 8" International Women's Day.

While officials in charge of China's manned spaceflight program were yet to be reached for confirmation, high-ranking sources with the ACWF confirmed Gu's announcement.

"Following the country's first successful manned spaceflight last year, I put forward the suggestion that women should also be trained for space travel, and this suggestion has been accepted by the central authorities," Gu, also vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament, added.

China joined Russia and the United States in the elite club of manned spaceflight last October as the homemade Shenzhou-5 spacecraft, piloted by Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force, orbited Earth 14 times and returned safely.

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