China chooses 18 new astronauts after a two-year selection process to help man its future space station
- The group includes seven pilots, seven engineers and four payload specialists
- They are backups for the astronauts who would be blasted to the space station
- China aims to complete the project in 2022 and put a man on the moon by 2030
- Beijing has made huge strides in the past decade in its space exploration project
China has chosen 18 new astronauts after a strict, two-year selection process to help it achieve its space exploration ambition.
The team is due to receive systematic training before assisting with the operation of the country’s crewed space station, according to Beijing’s space authority.
The Chinese government started to build its staffed space station in May and aims to complete it in 2022. It also plans to put a man on the moon by 2030.
China has selected its third batch of backup astronauts, 17 men and one woman, for its manned space station programme. The picture shows a model of an astronaut on the top of a partial model of the Chinese space station at the Airshow China 2018 on November 6, 2018
China’s Manned Space Engineering (CMSE), the authority in charge of the manned space programme, said earlier this year that the country planned to launch four Shenzhou crewed spacecraft in the next two years to help build the space station.
The astronauts who would be tasked to man these spaceships had already been decided by May and were undertaking relevant training, Ji Qiming, an official said at a press conference.
The latest recruits include seven pilots, seven spaceflight engineers and four payload specialists. They would be part of the reserved astronauts, a post from CMSE said last week.
Among them, 17 are male, and one is female. They were handpicked from 2,500 applicants through three rounds of selection from May 2018.
China’s space authority said in May that the country planned to launch four Shenzhou crewed spaceships to help build the space station. The nation aims to complete the station in 2022
China’s manned space station is set to operate in the low-Earth orbit at an altitude from 340 kilometres (211 miles) to 450 kilometres (280 miles) for more than 10 years, state media reported.
Chinese officials had already chosen two batches of reserves, and the latest group would ‘lay an important foundation for the long-term construction of our country’s astronaut team and the follow-up development of the space station project’, the post added.
China sent its first astronaut, Yang Liwei, into space less than two decades ago.
Yang, a Lieutenant Colonel of the People’s Liberation Army, became a national hero after being launched into orbit aboard Shenzhen-5 spaceflight on October 15, 2003. He returned to earth a day later.
Since then, 10 other Chinese astronauts have visited space.
The Chinese space station is set to operate in the low-Earth orbit at an altitude from 340 kilometres (211 miles) to 450 kilometres (280 miles) for more than 10 years. A partial model of the Chinese space station is pictured on display at the Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai
The news came after China last month unveiled its plan to build a heavy-lift carrier rocket that could fly astronauts to the moon.
The new launch vehicle would be able to carry a 25-ton manned spaceship and lunar lander.
Chinese officials are also considering building a mobile laboratory on the moon and a space station on Lunar orbit.
Like the US and Russia, China first engaged in space activities during the development of ballistic missiles in the 1950s.
While they did benefit from some assistance from the Soviet Union, China developed its space programme largely on its own.
In recent decades, China’s secretive space programme has developed rapidly.
China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket in 2003 after the former Soviet Union and the United States. Pictured, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei waves after emerging from the Shenzhou-5 capsule in China’s Inner Mongolia on October 16, 2003
Last year, Chang’e-4 became the first spacecraft from any country to land on the far side of the moon.
In May, China launched a new manned spaceship – with no crew on board – with its largest carrier rocket, signalling one step closer towards sending astronauts with its lunar exploration.
China has made huge strides in the past decade and has laid the groundwork to assemble a space station by 2022 and gain a permanent foothold in Earth orbit.
The nation has been racing to catch up with Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030.
The United States is so far the only country that has been able to send humans to the moon.
CHINA STEPS UP PLANS TO BECOME SPACE SUPERPOWER WITH MARS AND MOON MISSIONS
Officials from the Chinese space agency are working to become a space superpower alongside the US and Russia.
They have already sent the first mission to the far side of the Moon – sharing photos from the part of our nearest neighbour we rarely see.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the Moon and is expected to launch in 2023 or 2024.
Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition, space environment in an overall mission, according to the Chinese space authority, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology.
Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the project and if it is viable as a scientific base.
The CNSA is also building an Earth-orbiting space station where Chinese astronauts will conduct scientific experiments, similar to the crew of the ISS.
The agency is also launching a mission to Mars in summer 2020 which will see them land a rover on the surface of the red planet.
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