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Women will ‘definitely’ have place on Chinese space station crew

Women will be among the crew on China’s space station, which is set to be up and running by 2022, the country’s first female astronaut said on Friday.

“There will definitely be women on the space station,” astronaut Liu Yang said in Hong Kong on Friday.

Liu said the country’s expanding space programme would recruit women in its next astronaut intake.

Meanwhile, Lei Fanpei, chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told state-run Xinhua that China planned to launch the station’s core module around 2018.

Lei said the 20-tonne space station would be put into orbit around 2022 and include a core and two lab modules, with ports to allow multiple spacecraft to dock.

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Liu became China’s first woman in space when she lifted off in the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in 2012.

China is the third nation after Soviet Union and the United States to send women into space with its own technology.

The country’s second woman astronaut, Wang Yaping, went into space in 2013.

Liu said that in preparation for more manned missions, Chinese scientists were working to improve the living conditions in spacecraft for astronauts.

Tearful farewell

“Shenzhou 11 will have better space meals,” she said. “Astronauts will be able to enjoy porridge in space.”

She said one astronaut who travelled with her was craving for the porridge during the mission.

Liu said scientists are also developing shower facilities for China’s space station.

Liu told state media earlier that the two astronauts on Shenzhou 11, scheduled be launched later this month to dock with the space lab Tiangong 2, would both be men.