By Louisa Lim
China is to start scouting its high schools next year to find candidates to be the country's first woman in space.
Future flights may not be reserved for men alone
The Xinhua news agency quoted a space official as saying the woman would first be taught to pilot aircraft, then spacecraft.
China's first manned spacecraft blasted off in October last year, and preparations are underway for a second launch next year.
The spacewomen search follows lobbying by the All China Women's Federation.
But it might not be the giant leap for gender equality they had been hoping for.
Earlier reports have already laid out the division of labour clearly, saying the first female astronaut would be allowed to do research work while the spacecraft would actually be piloted by a male colleague.
Space official Huang Chunping also confirmed plans to launch China's second manned space flight next year, saying it would be a five-day mission with two astronauts.
He laid out a timeline for China's aims: a space lab by 2010 and its own space station five years after that.
Last year China became only the third member of the exclusive club of space-faring nations.