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China's first female astronaut: Who is she? (+video)

Liu Yang, a fighter pilot, is slated to become China's first female astronaut to travel into space on Saturday.

Chinese space museum officials talk about the upcoming launch of a Chinese spacecraft that will take the first Chinese woman into space.
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China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft Saturday in hopes of carrying out the country's first manual orbital docking test. On board the Shenzhou-9 will be another first: the Sally Ride of China.

Liu Yang, a 34-year-old fighter pilot, will become China's first female astronaut to travel into space. After conquering a rigorous selection process and completing two years of intense astronautic training, she will join two male crewmates, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, on the upcoming mission.

Aside from fulfilling the mission tasks, which include rendezvous and docking with the orbiting Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Palace) module, a prototype of a proposed Chinese space lab, Liu Yang "yearns to experience the wondrous, weightless environment of space, see the Earth and gaze upon the motherland," she told the press Friday.

But who is Yang, and how — from among half a billion Chinese women — was she chosen to be the country's first space heroine? [Infographic: Female Space Explorers]


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