In a first, Chinese women enrol to become astronauts | world | Hindustan Times
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In a first, Chinese women enrol to become astronauts

world Updated: Sep 17, 2009 22:03 IST

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China has selected 30 men and 15 women candidates in the second round of its space-training programme, officials said on Thursday.

All 45 candidates are air force pilots.

Five men and two women will be finally selected to become astronauts.

It is the first time women have enrolled to join the country's space programme, officials said.

The candidates, aged between 27 and 34, will now undergo physiological and psychological tests.

The male candidates are fighter jet pilots, while the female candidates are aero-transport pilots, and all serve in the People's Liberation Army (PLA), an air force official said.

Many of them have conducted rescue operations after the devastating earthquake May 12, 2008, in southwestern Sichuan province.The candidates had earlier undergone medical and psychological tests as well as checks on family background and other "comprehensive assessments". The selection process started in May.

China has sent six astronauts into space since 2003. It sent its first astronaut Yang Liwei on board the indigenously built spacecraft Shenzhou-5. Two more Chinese astronauts were sent into space in 2005.

In September last year, three other astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng orbited the earth for three days on board the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft.Zhai became the first Chinese to walk in outer space September 27, 2008. His space walk lasted about 20 minutes, which paved the way for the country's next space missions - space docking in 2011 and a manned space station in 2020.