China sends female astronaut into space


Chinese astronaut Liu Yang donned her spacesuit before the launch lf Shenzhou 9. (STR/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VIA GETTY IMAGES)
June 18, 2012

China sent its first woman into space with two other astronauts to work on a temporary space station.

Liu Yang, a 34-year-old air force pilot, and two male astronauts launched aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft and docked Monday with the bus-size Tiangong 1 space module, orbiting about 200 miles above the Earth.

Two of the astronauts will live and work inside the module to test its life-support systems and to perform medical tests to see how the human body reacts to the weightlessness of space. The third astronaut will remain in the ship to deal with any unexpected emergencies. The mission will last more than 10 days before the astronauts return to Earth in the capsule, landing on Chinese grasslands with the help of parachutes.

China hopes to have a more permanent space station. So far, the United States and Russia are the only countries to have sent independently maintained space stations into orbit.

— Associated Press

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