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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
China picks its first spacewomen
Yang Liwei
China's first man in space was former fighter pilot Yang Liwei
China has picked its first group of women to be trained as astronauts, according the state news agency Xinhua.

The 35 women, aged between 17 and 20, will first train as pilots at the Chinese military's Aviation University, Xinhua quoted an official as saying.

Some will then be picked for space missions, and China's first female is due to be launched into space by 2010.

China achieved its first manned space flight in October 2003. It plans to launch another mission later this year.

The short listed women were picked from more than 200,000 hopefuls, according to Xinhua.

They will work as flight commanders or on-board engineers, Hu Shixiang, deputy chief commander of China's Manned Space Programme, told the China Daily newspaper.

Earlier reports have said the spacecraft would actually be piloted by a male colleague.

The US and Russia are the only other countries to have launched manned spacecraft - and both have sent women into space.

Valentina Tereshkova, from the USSR, became the first female in space in 1963, and Sally Ride was the first American, in 1983.

China's second manned space mission - called Shenzhou VI - is due to launch in early October. Two people are set to be launched into space for a total of five days.

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28 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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31 Oct 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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