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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK
China launches spacewomen hunt
By Louisa Lim
BBC, Beijing

China's first man in space, Yang Liwei (file picture)
Future flights may not be reserved for men alone
China is to start scouting its high schools next year to find candidates to be the country's first woman in space.

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.

Launch of the Shenzhou V spacecraft

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.




SEE ALSO:
China's vision for new space age
08 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature
China sets out Moon goals
07 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature
China puts its first man in space
15 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Going into space to gain face
15 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Man in space - a new chapter
15 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature


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