Credit: CCTV

 

A third group of Chinese astronauts has been selected for the nation’s coming space station mission, the China Manned Space Agency reported on Thursday morning.

The 18 new astronauts – 17 men and one woman – are in three groups:

— seven will become spacecraft pilots and were chosen from aviators from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

— another seven will turn into spaceflight engineers, former researchers or technicians in aeronautics, astronautics and other related fields.

— the last four will be mission payload specialists selected from those involved in space science and applications for China’s piloted space program.

Credit: CCTV

According to a report in China Daily, before this new selection, China had 21 astronauts from two generations. Among them, 11 have taken part in spaceflight during six missions.

The selection for the third-generation team began in April 2018, culling down the group from roughly 2,500 applicants.

Credit: CMS/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Multi-module station

According to government plans, the nation will start putting together its first crewed space station around 2021.

Marking the first step, a Long March 5B will put the station’s core module into orbit that year. Next, other components and astronauts will be ferried to the core module to assemble the station.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The multimodule station, named Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, will be mainly composed of three components — a core module attached to two space labs — having a combined weight of more than 90 metric tons, according to the China Academy of Space Technology.

The space station is expected to be built and become fully operational around 2022 and is set to operate for about 15 years, the academy said.

U.S. concerns

Yesterday, a China Task Force released a detailed policy blueprint to counter the growing global threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This Task Force was comprised of 15 members representing 11 committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The CCP is looking to become a space superpower, notes the document that also discussed China’s space station efforts.

“If the PRC [People’s Republic of China] succeeds in its efforts to launch its first long-term space station module in 2022, it will have matched the U.S.’ nearly 40-year progression from first human spaceflight to first space station module in less than 20 years. The CCP is vocal about plans to establish a human base on the Moon. The U.S. should be concerned about the technological innovations and leadership role for the CCP that could come from missions crewed by PRC-nationals to the Moon,” the report says.

To review the task force document, go to:

https://gop-foreignaffairs.house.gov/blog/china-task-force-report/?fbclid=IwAR00nyEBracC64yjYXp7-Y1Df1ZWRQHIHccipLS0kMgzMH-8qsVG3j11OL4

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