Liu Yang, a 33-year-old air force pilot, has been named by China as the astronaut set to become the Asian nation’s first woman in space when the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft blasts off on Saturday.
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Liu will travel with two male astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, into orbit, where the Shenzhou-9 will dock with the Tiangong-1 space laboratory and the crew will carry out a number of experiments.
Launch time for China’s fourth manned space flight is set for 6.37pm local time (6.37am ET) on Saturday, from a space center in China’s northwestern Gansu province, CNN reported. If the manned docking is successful, China – which aims to construct a permanent space base and send a manned mission to the moon – will become the world’s third nation after the United States and Russia to complete such a procedure.
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A spokesman for China’s space program told Xinhua on Friday that Liu’s participation was expected to make the mission more efficient, as “generally speaking female astronauts have better durability, psychological stability and ability to deal with loneliness.”
Liu was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying that “from day one I have been told I am no different from the male astronauts,” and that “I believe in persevering. If you persevere, success lies ahead of you,” the BBC reported.
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