China’s first female astronaut Liu Yang

By Amanda Shore

This weekend, China’s first female astronaut will launch into space. This momentous occasion has sparked national pride. Liu Yang, a 34-year-old fighter pilot, will board the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft Saturday in order to carry out the country’s first manual orbital docking test.

Yang was chosen for such an honor by preparing from an early age. Chinese astronauts are required to be married and have children in case their fertility is harmed from any radiation in space. Yang enrolled in aviation school just after high school due to the urges of her teacher. From there, she enlisted it the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. There, she rose to the rank of major and became the deputy head of a flight unit. In May 2010, she was recruited into the second class of prospective astronauts. She got perfect scores on a series of tests and was then chosen as a candidate for the Shenzhou-9. She stated, “I am grateful to the motherland and the people. I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of female Chinese citizens.”

The Shenzhou-8 completed a remote controlled docking with Tiangong 1 last year in preparation for this mission. The current mission will have two parts. The first will be a remote controlled docking to Tiangong 1, followed by a manual docking. Yang and her crewmates, Jing Haipeng, the commander, and Liu Wang, will return after 10 days in space and land in the grasslands of China by parachute.

Yang says that she “yearns to experience the wondrous, weightless environment of space, see the Earth and gaze upon the motherland.” Good luck!

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