Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'Hero’ pilot as China’s space woman?

From the Times of India: Hero’ pilot as China’s space woman? BEIJING: Successful childbirth was one of the criteria that went into selecting female pilots, one of whom will make the journey in China's first manned flight into space in mid-June. One of the two selected astronauts is already a public heroine for having successfully handled a mid-air emergency.

They were selected out of a group of 15 women, who were initially shortlisted on the basis of several qualities including natural child birth, according to Space International magazine under the China Academy of Space Technology. Other criteria include absence of scars and body odour.

One of the two will be chosen for the space journey. Both are transport pilots with the People's Liberation Army Air Force. Natural childbirth is a sign that shows mature physical and mental condition, according to Xu Xianrong, a professor with the General Hospital of the PLA Air Force. The chosen pilots must also be married and living with their spouses because they need interpersonal skills to live in space with male colleagues.

The two female astronauts, both 33, have been picked out of nine pilots who had been selected for their flying skills and psychological strength. They include Captain Wang Yaping from Shandong province and Major Liu Yang from Henan province.

The identities of two male crew members have not been revealed. The PLA said on Saturday it will announce the names of the crew closer to the take off of Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft, which will dock with Tiangong-1 spacecraft. Liu Yang was once caught in a dangerous situation when her plane hit 18 pigeons. The plane's windshield splattered with blood and the cockpit was filled with burning smell. She managed to stabilize the aircraft and made a successful emergency landing 11 minutes after the incident.

Pang said candidates without scars were shortlisted because a scar might open and start bleeding in space and the cramped conditions would intensify body odour.

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