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Published On: Sat, Jun 16th, 2012

First Chinese astronaut sent into space

China made history Saturday when it launched a spacecraft sending the nation’s first female astronaut in space.

The Shenzhou-9 launched Saturday afternoon, carrying Liu Yang and two male astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang.

State media aired the launch held at a satellite center in Jiuquan.

Drawing of China's large orbital station 2011 Photo/Craigboy via wikimedia commons

Liu, 33, was the deputy head of a flight unit in the nation’s air force, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

She is a veteran pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience, and excelled in space testing after two years of training.

The launch was declared a success by space program chief Chang Wanquan, a People’s Liberation Army general who sits on the ruling Communist Party’s powerful central military commission — underscoring the program’s close military ties.

Their mission is to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station.

China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on its own.

Another manned mission to the module is planned for later this year, while possible future missions could include sending a person to the moon.

The program is a source of enormous national pride for China, reflecting its rapid economic and technological progress and ambition to rank among the world’s leading nations.

At a sending off ceremony for the astronauts, the ruling Communist Party’s No. 2 official, Wu Bangguo, told the crew, “The country and people await your victorious return.”

The module, called Tiangong 1, is only a prototype, and the plan is to replace it with a larger permanent space station due for completion around 2020.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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