China confirms first woman into space

2012-06-15 12:35
The Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft moves to the launch pad at the Jiuquan launch centre in Jiuquan, China. (AP)

The Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft moves to the launch pad at the Jiuquan launch centre in Jiuquan, China. (AP)

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Beijing - China said Friday a female astronaut will be among the three-person team on board the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which will launch on Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Shenzhou-9 will take off at 18.37 (10:37 GMT) on Saturday from the Jiuquan space base in the Gobi desert for the country's fourth manned space launch, with Liu Yang, 33, and two male astronauts on board, Xinhua said.

They will perform China's first manned space docking, a highly technical procedure that brings together two vessels in high speed orbit and is the latest step in a plan aimed at giving the country a permanent space station by 2020.

Liu's mission, which has been heavily trailed in the Chinese media, will make China the third country after the Soviet Union and US to send a woman into space using its own technology, and represent another propaganda coup for the one-party communist state.

The 33-year-old, a major in the People's Liberation Army and trained fighter pilot, is married but has no children, according to Chinese media reports.

"From day one I have been told I am no different from the male astronauts," she told the state broadcaster CCTV in an interview broadcast after Friday's announcement.

The two male astronauts are Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, Xinhua said.

Read more on:    china  |  space
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