China plans to begin looking for women astronaut candidates from high schools in 2005. This is a victory for China’s major women’s group, the All-China Women’s Federation, which has been lobbying the government extensively to include women astronauts in its space programs since March, when announcements were made about China’s intent to expand its space efforts, reports Wired News.
Huange Chunping, chief director of China’s manned space program carrier rocket system, announced at a lecture the government’s intention for “Chinese women [to] realize their space dreams as soon as possible,” according to the People’s Daily in China. However, it is unlikely that China would send its first woman into orbit before 2010, reports The Daily Times, due to the extensive and grueling training required for candidates chosen out of high school in order to ensure their physical fitness for the task.
China would be the third nation to send women into space. Russia was the first country to include women in space missions in 1963, followed 20 years later by the US in 1983.