China set to send woman into space

June 15, 2012 at 2:59 PM
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BEIJING, June 15 (UPI) -- China says the launch of its the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft Saturday will send the country's first female astronaut into space.

The launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is set for 6:37 a.m. EDT and will carry three astronauts, two male and one female, to conduct the country's first space docking test, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space program.

They are Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and the female astronaut Liu Yang, the spokeswoman said.

Liu Yang, 33, is an air force major and a veteran pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience.

She was the deputy head of a flight unit of the Air Force before being recruited into China's second batch of prospective astronauts in May 2010, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The upcoming Shenzhou-9 mission will conduct both manual and automatic docking between the spacecraft and the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, Wu said.

The Tiangong-1 has been lowered to the docking orbit 213 miles above Earth and is operating normally, she said.

With the completion of docking, the astronauts will live and work in Tiangong-1.

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