Chinese taikonauts (from left) Liu Yang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang. Credit: www.news.cn

China to Send Its First Woman to Space on June 16

15 Jun , 2012 by

China will launch a three-person crew on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 10:37 UTC (6:37 a.m. EDT) on board a Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, heading to the Tiangong 1 spacelab. The crew includes Liu Yang, the first female Chinese taikonaut. With her will be Jing Haipeng, the commander and a veteran of two other spaceflights and Liu Wang. This will be the first manned docking to the Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Palace), which was launched in September 2011.

The Shenzhou 9 will launch from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in the Gobi desert in western China.

Yang is a 33-year-old fighter pilot and said during a broadcast interview, “From day one I have been told I am no different from the male astronauts…I believe in persevering. If you persevere, success lies ahead of you.”

Liu joined the taikonaut training program in May 2010 and was selected as a possible candidate for the docking mission after she excelled in testing, according to the Xinhua news agency.

She initially trained as a cargo pilot and has been praised for her cool handling of an incident when her jet hit a flock of pigeons but she was still able to land the heavily damaged aircraft.

At a press conference, the three taikonauts were behind a glass wall before a small group of hand-picked journalists. They said the manual docking was a “huge test,” but that they had rehearsed the procedure more than 1,500 times.

“The three of us understand each other tacitly. One glance, one facial expression, one movement, we understand each other thoroughly,” said Jing.

Tiangong-1
Once Shenzhou 9 reaches the vicinity of Tiangong 1, the crew will perform a manual docking, but the Chinese space agency has said future missions will have automated dockings.

Some reports have indicated the Shenzhou spacecraft is designed with a common docking system that would allow it to dock with the International Space Station in the future should China be invited to visit.

Once on board the Taingong 1, the crew will do some medical research and conduct other research including monitoring live butterflies and butterfly eggs and pupae.

China has said they hope to add more modules to their space station, with a final version of it built by 2020. A white paper released last December outlining China’s ambitious space program said the country “will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.”

Lead image caption: China’s astronauts Jing Haipeng (C), Liu Wang (R) and Liu Yang meet with media in Jiuquan, China on June 15, 2012. The three astronauts will board Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on Saturday for China’s first manned space docking mission. Credit: Xinhua/Wang Jianmin

Second image caption: An artists rendering of the Tiangong-1 module, the first part of China’s space station. To the right is a Shenzhou spacecraft, preparing to dock with the module. Image Credit: CNSA

Sources: PeopleDaily, AFP, SpaceRef.

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Durand
Guest
Durand
June 15, 2012 3:51 PM

Interesting article, thanks! Is this sentence correct though? “China has said they hope to add more modules to their space station, with a final version of it built by 2010”

Aqua4U
Member
June 15, 2012 5:47 PM

I saw that too and thought they might have meant that the modules themselves were completed in 2010?

Atanu Maulik
Guest
June 16, 2012 6:46 AM

That’s a typo. It will be 2020.

Kevin Frushour
Guest
June 15, 2012 9:46 PM

“From day one I have been told I am no different from the male astronauts”

She’s prettier, though.

SJStar
Guest
SJStar
June 15, 2012 10:13 PM
Wow, is this woman Major Liu Yang talented. She was naturally selected because she is an member of the Chinese elite – the PLA (People’s Liberation Army.) It seems the military, as in the early American and Russian rocket launches again lies heavily with the armed forces before opening positions for scientists and engineers. I do think her pride and nationalism is genuinely felt, and it is no wonder the publicity in China media has reach such fever pitch – openly already declaring her as a ‘heroine’. Her representation in their space program reflects quite well on Chinese woman and girls and their wider role in that society – no doubt boosting ideas of a more equitable and… Read more »
Olaf
Member
Olaf
June 15, 2012 11:23 PM

I bet that in a few years from now these Chinese will catch us by surprise and land on the Moon.

Atanu Maulik
Guest
June 16, 2012 6:51 AM

You will lose the bet. Where will they get the rocket designs to copy from ? The Russians never sent a man anywhere near the moon.

Olaf
Member
Olaf
June 16, 2012 10:39 AM

The rockets and capsules they now use are also no copies. And they built these things in big secrecy. They will not warn the world that they will head to the moon, then will just do it to show off the power they have.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
June 16, 2012 1:14 PM
If you are really adamant that China copy all designs, that is no problem since the russians had derived the hardware for a manned moon visit and launched several moon rockets for the mission (but failed). But they have stated that they will develop the hardware and get the experience if needed, and we have no reason to believe they are unable to do so. Besides that they haven’t copied much from russians specifically besides some basic architecture. That is mostly the easily started and weather resistant hypergolics in the launchers, and the maximize-living-space-by-minimizing-return-mass concept. Apollo was intended for hypervelocity returns and the Shuttle for reuse so couldn’t do the latter, and were all started from near equator… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
June 16, 2012 12:35 AM

Great! And they choose to include women early on instead of exclusion, even better. The keeping cool requirement is probably still important, they need some more missions and tests of hardware before it is deemed safer.

Which is why I give extra wishes for their mission’s success!

John Rankin
Guest
June 16, 2012 5:29 AM

where can we watch the launch live on the web?

Brian
Guest
June 17, 2012 9:27 AM

Wish them success in their mission!

George
Guest
George
June 17, 2012 6:44 AM

She’s good looking smile

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