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Profile: Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut

(Xinhua)

20:32, June 15, 2012

JIUQUAN, June 15 (Xinhua) -- An eloquent speaker and a lover of cooking, Liu Yang is well-poised to be the first Chinese woman in space.

When she watched the news on television of China's first manned space mission in 2003, the pilot couldn't help but wonder: What would the Earth look like from outer space?

Nine years later, Liu is getting the opportunity to find out herself as China's first female astronaut, taking her place among three Chinese chosen to crew the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft.

The 33-year-old will be in charge of medical experiments during the mission, which will also feature China's first attempt at a manual space docking procedure.

"I am grateful to the motherland and the people. I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of female Chinese citizens," Liu said at a Friday press conference.

"I have full confidence," Liu said before the mission. "There are many foreign female astronauts who have been into space. Men and women have their own advantages and capabilities in carrying out space missions. They can complement each other and better complete their mission."

The native of central China's Henan province started looking toward the skies just after high school, when one of her teachers convinced her to enroll in an aviation school.

Joining the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force in 1997, Liu became a veteran pilot after flying safely for 1,680 hours. She was promoted to deputy head of a PLA flight unit before being recruited as a prospective astronauts in May 2010. She is now an Air Force major.



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