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China selects first woman astronaut candidate

BEIJING (PTI): China has for the first time selected women pilots to undertake an astronaut training programme to join its space development mission.

Thirty men and 15 women, all air force pilots, will participate in military-backed training programme, authorities said.

In the end, five men and two women would be selected to join the space programme and will participate in three more manned missions planned before 2012, China Daily reported Thursday.

The missions are to prepare for the rendezvous and docking tasks required for constructing a space station.

The authorities said they "all master excellent flight skills and boast great psychological quality."

The 45 candidates, with an average age of 30, would undergo another round of tests, including physiological and psychological checks, an air force official said.

In 2003, China became the first Asian country to put its own astronauts into space.

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