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Latest News
Special> Shenzhou 10> Latest News
UPDATED: June 18, 2013 NO. 25 JUNE 20, 2013
Space Lab Success
Tenth Shenzhou space mission is a smooth ride
By Yin Pumin

GOING UP:Shenzhou-10, China's fifth manned spacecraft, blasts off atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province on June 11 (LI GANG)

The module is considered the first step toward China operating a permanent space station around 2020, which would make it the world's third country to do so.

Shenzhou-10 is also engaging the public with an interactive video lecture on microgravity physics by astronaut Wang. She will discuss surface tension of liquids and help students understand weight, mass and Newton's laws of motion.

"It is a festival for space fans," said Zhao Yang, a researcher with the China Science and Technology Museum. "There might be an interesting introduction about the weightless condition."

Space emissaries

Before joining the manned space flight program, Nie, Zhang and Wang were seasoned pilots in the national air force.

Wang is China's first space traveler born in the 1980s, a generation growing up in the era of China's reform and opening up.

Nie, a two-time space traveler, first visited space in 2005, aboard the Shenzhou-6 spacecraft.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) recruited Nie in 1983. He served as a navigation director of a PLA Air Force division and a first-class pilot with 1,480 flight hours. He was selected to become one of China's first astronauts in January 1998.

In April, 48-year-old Nie was selected to be a prime crew member of the Shenzhou-10 space mission. He is responsible for the manual docking operation.

Zhang, 47, will assist Nie in the manual docking operation.

Zhang joined the army as an airman in 1985 and logged 1,000 hours of safe flying. In January 1998, Zhang started training with China's first batch of astronauts. He now holds the rank of senior colonel. He will also be filming Wang's space lecture.

Wang is responsible for monitoring the conditions of the spacecraft, space experiments and equipment. She is also the second Chinese woman in space, following Liu Yang who was aboard Shenzhou-9 last June.

Pang Zhihao, a researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology, said that female astronauts are more "keen and sensitive and have better communication skills than their male counterparts." He said women were also good at dealing with relationships with their colleagues in space, which would be an important issue on a long mission such as a trip to Mars.

Growing up in a farmer's family in east China's Shandong Province, the 33-year-old joined in the PLA Air Force when she was 17 years old, and became an elite pilot after mastering four different types of aircraft. She has nine years of experience as a transport aircraft pilot and has logged 1,600 flight hours.

She joined China's second batch of female astronauts in 2010, and was on standby for the Shenzhou-9 mission.

"We are all students in facing the vast universe. We are looking forward to joining our young friends to learn and explore the mystical and beautiful universe," said Wang at the June 10 press conference.

Email us at: yinpumin@bjreview.com

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