2012-03-26 (China Military News cited from indianexpress.com) — China has shortlisted two “flawless” women, who may become the country’s first women astronauts, for its next manned space mission to be launched between June and August this year.
The tough selection process required the two women to be married, to have given birth naturally and to neither have decayed teeth nor scars. If chosen for the Shenzhou-9 mission, they would be the first Chinese women astronauts.
“Out of seven candidates, three Chinese astronauts, also known as Taikonauts, will be finalised for the space mission,” Li Wei, deputy designer for spacecraft systems with the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation said. Shenzhou-9 will manually dock with China’s experimental space station Tiangong -1, which is currently orbiting the Earth.
The seven candidates for the Shenzhou-9 were picked from among fighter pilots. Another 45 astronauts, including 15 women and 30 men, were selected as back-ups, Li said.
The two women astronauts, whose identity will be released before the launch, were selected from 15 women who were married and had given birth naturally, Space International magazine under the China Academy of Space Technology said. “They were also required to have no scars or body odour,” it added. Pang Zhihao, deputy editor-in-chief of the magazine, said the women could not have decayed teeth “as it might cause great trouble or a disaster in space.” Pang said a scar might open and start bleeding in space and the cramped conditions would intensify body odour.
Women astronauts tend to be more “keen and sensitive with better communication skills than their male counterparts,” Pang said. He added that women were also good at dealing with relationships with space partners — an important quality on a long missions.
Xu Xianrong, a professor with the General Hospital of the PLA Air Force, said the woman astronauts must be married and have given birth naturally because that would ensure their body and mental condition was mature enough.
Soviet Union sent the first woman astronaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, into space in 1963.