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Monday, October 24, 2005

They're Back Safe and Sound!

Just back from orbiting the earth, and a tour of some regions of outer space, are the Chinese taikonauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng. The space capsule, Shenzhou 6, the name means divine vessel, carrying the two Chinese astronauts landed by parachute in the country's northern grasslands before dawn Monday, October 17, 2005, following a five-day mission which affirms the Chinese government's status as an emerging technological power. The launch came almost exactly two years after China's first manned space flight.

As only the third country to send humans into orbit on its own, after Russia and the United States --this mission is a source of tremendous national pride as the communist government of China tries to cement its status as a rising power and help prepare for a moon landing by 2010 and the eventual creation of a space station.

As reported in the China Daily Chen Shanguang, director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Centre, says scientists have begun to study the impact of space flight on women. He said they are learning from the experiences of US women astronauts. As female taikonauts have different requirements for the environment and life in a spacecraft, therefore Chinese researchers will have to make extensive studies including the development of new spacesuits.

In July 2005 Air Force Aeronautics University in China welcomed 35 women pilot trainees. The academy is expected to produce the country's first group of female fighter pilots. The first woman taikonaut is likely to be chosen from among this group of trainees.

According to senior space official, Wu Chuansheng, China now has the technology to train foreign astronauts. The China Space Centre has added the goal of training foreign astronauts to its development agenda. The China Daily additionally reports the recent flight of the Shenzhou 6 has further demonstrated China's is capability of independently training astronauts.


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