China to recruit civilian astronauts, boost crewed missions

March 4, 2018
China to recruit civilian astronauts, boost crewed missions
In this Oct. 31, 2003, file photo, school children wave Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they welcome China's first astronaut Yang Liwei, center, to Hong Kong's Government House for an official reception hosted by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, shortly after arriving for a five-day visit to the territory. China says it plans to begin recruiting civilian astronauts for its military-backed space program and increase the number of crewed missions to around two a year. Yang told reporters Saturday, March 3, 2018, new astronauts will include maintenance engineers and payload specialists as well as pilots. (AP Photo/Anat Givon, File)

China will begin recruiting civilian astronauts for its military-backed space program and plans to increase the number of crewed missions to around two a year, a top official with the country's space program said.

China's third batch of astronaut trainees will include recruits from industry, research institutions and universities who will help build and crew China's independent space station, Yang Liwei, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of China's ceremonial parliament.

New astronauts will include maintenance engineers and payload specialists as well as pilots, Yang, who became China's first man in space in 2003, said Saturday.

China selected 14 , or yuhangyuan in Chinese, in the late 1990s and another seven in 2010, including two women. A total of 11 have been sent on six missions.

China now operates the Tiangong 2 precursor space station facility, while the permanent station's 20-ton core module will be launched this year. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese 's strong military connections.

Since China conducted its first crewed missions—becoming only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so—it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020. China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

Explore further: China prepares to launch country's first cargo spacecraft

Related Stories

China launches second space station, Tiangong 2

September 15, 2016

China has launched its second space station in a sign of the growing sophistication of its military-backed program that intends to send a mission to Mars in the coming years.

China plans to land probes on far side of moon, Mars by 2020

December 27, 2016

China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.

Recommended for you

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.