China may put first woman in space by 2012

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Beijing, July 9 (ANI): China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, has revealed that Chinese women would soon be seen in space.

During a web chat with the official Xinhua news agency, Liwei said: "The selection (of China's first woman astronaut) is underway I believe Chinese women will be seen in space in the near future."

Yang, now 44, made history when he voyaged beyond the planet's atmosphere for 21 hours aboard the Shenzhou V spaceship in 2003.

He was among a batch of 14 Chinese men trained to be astronauts. Now, he is in charge of the country's selection of the next generation of astronauts.

He did not say how many women will be recruited into the program but was adamant women will be among China's second batch of astronauts.

An Air Force source told China Daily that potential female astronauts would be recruited from the 16 female fighter pilots who graduated in April.

The 16 became the first young women in China qualified to fly fighter jets. They were chosen from 150,000 high school graduates in 12 provinces.

Sui Guosheng, the Air Force officer in charge of recruitment, told Guangzhou-based Nanfang Weekly that the first female astronaut could complete her journey into space by 2012. (ANI)

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