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Chinese taikonauts face immense challenges in maiden spacewalk mission
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19:31, September 25, 2008

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Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft will face immense challenges in their mission, scheduled to kick off between 9:07 p.m. to 10:27 p.m. local time on Thursday.

Space motion sickness, which occurs to most spacecraft passengers, can cause dizziness, vomiting and nausea, while depression, another type of ailment that accompanies the space flight, could incur joint pain, breath difficulties or even a loss of consciousness.

"Some of these malaises could be life-threatening. For example, if the occupant throws up, the vomits will block the tubes and circuits in the spacesuit and cause fatal consequences," said Li Yongzhi, director of medical department of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.

"The safety of the astronauts has always been a source of concern," she said.

Li said the medical support team have been dealing with these challenges since the first manned space mission in 2003. New precautionary measures have been taken prior to the Shenzhou-7 mission, the highlight of which is the first ever spacewalk by a Chinese astronauts.

Doctors at the center collected data on their physical situations and concocted different prescription for each astronauts. Dozens of types of medications, including newly-developed traditional Chinese medicine capsules, have been loaded to the spacecraft. Medical drips are also prepared for the spacewalking astronauts.

The taikonauts (astronauts) started taking medications eight hours before the flight, and take regular doses every day during the flight, Li said.

Source: Xinhua

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