China to send first woman into space on Saturday

Beijing, Jun 15: China will send its first woman into space when an airforce pilot joins a three-member team of astronauts on the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft which blasts off tomorrow.Liu Yang, a pilot who successfully averted
china to send first woman into space on saturday...
PTI 15 Jun 2012, 06:20 PM IST
Beijing, Jun 15: China will send its first woman into space when an airforce pilot joins a three-member team of astronauts on the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft which blasts off tomorrow.



Liu Yang, a pilot who successfully averted a mid-air accident after her flight was hit by 18 pigeons, would be part of the team that would perform China's first manned space docking, in preparation for Beijing's plan to setup a permanent space station.

“33-year-old Liu will be part of the crew of Shenzhou-9 which would be launched tomorrow form the Jiuquan space base in China's north Gobi desert,” according to an announcement by China's manned space docking programme headquarters.  

Liu's mission will make China the third country after Russia and the US to send a woman into space.

When successful, this will be China's fourth manned space launch.  Liu and her two male colleagues Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang will dock with with Tiangong-1 module currently orbting earth.  

“From day one, I have been told I am no different from male astronauts,” Liu, a trained pilot told state broadcaster CCTV.

Relatively unknown till now, Liu's selection against her rival Wang Yaping became a foregone conclusion as the official media here highlighted her heroics for the past few days.  

Born in Henan province Liu, 34 enrolled into Changchun No 1 Flight College of the PLA airforce after graduating from high school and later became an Air Force cargo plane pilot.  She is married and has a child.

China has an ambitious space programme and a white paper release last December outlines the country's programme to conduct a human lunar landing.

Liu an airforce pilot with heroic acts like landing her plane safely after it was hit by 18 pigeons said that to be an astronaut, one has to obtain a lot of theoretical knowledge, go through very challenging space living environment training and survive examinations on operation skills with no error. 

“The sense of mission and responsibility as well as the passion for aerospace undertakings are the source of courage to overcome difficulties,” Liu said.

She said many tasks have been arranged for this space trip.

“I am grateful to the motherland and the people. I feel honoured to fly into the space on behalf of hundreds of millions of female Chinese citizens,” a shy looking Liu said.  The astronauts appeared to the media from behind a glass enclosure. Liu will become 57th woman astronaut in the world to go into space.

She was confident things would go well because they had practiced all critical procedures for about 1500 times in the last two years.

“From day one, I have been told I am no different from male astronauts,” Liu, a trained pilot told state broadcaster CCTV.

Relatively unknown till now, Liu's selection against her rival Wang Yaping became a foregone conclusion as the official media here highlighted her heroics for the past few days.  Born in Henan province Liu, 34 enrolled into Changchun No 1 Flight College of the PLA airforce after graduating from high school and later became an Air Force cargo plane pilot. 

In her interview to CCTV earlier, Liu who is married with a child said she virtually lived in vacuum during the past two years.

“Except for my immediate family members no one else knew where I am and what I am doing”.

She said she will keep a detailed record of her feelings and experiences and share with scientists and future astronauts when she comes back.

She also expressed her gratefulness to all the people.  “I will live up to your expectations and work with my teammates to fulfil this space mission,” she said.
 
   
 

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