Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Scientists will be included among China’s next batch of astronauts as the country opens up its space program to a wider range of talents, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program, in Beijing on Tuesday.

The third batch of astronauts, which follows the previous selections in 1995 and 2009, will participate in the construction of China’s space station, the third step of China’s manned space program.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Flight engineers and scientists will be selected besides fighter pilots. The selection will be completed around July, said Zhou in an online interview posted by China Central Television (CCTV).

Scientific devices

“When we send a scientist to the space, he can adjust and improve the plans accordingly with his expertise and personal operation. Higher efficiency will be achieved in this way,” Zhou said in the CCTV interview.

A large number of scientific experimental devices will be deployed at the space station, including those for space life science, space material science, space microgravity science, combustion science, and basic physics and astronomy.

Credit: Weibo

“The successful maiden flight of the Long March-5B carrier rocket marks the start of the construction of the space station,” Zhou added. “Greater challenges are ahead.”

Space station construction

Zhou explained that China will launch space station modules starting next year.

Credit: CMS/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“We will finish the construction of the space station and test of key technologies in over two years. During this period of time, we will launch the core module and two experimental capsules of the station, as well as four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft. All the work, in 11 flight missions, will be completed in two years,” Zhou said.

Credit: CMS/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

A sky survey optical module will also be established as part of space station operations to explore origin of the space and habitable planets.

Humans to Moon

China will also extend its exploration to the Moon and prepare manned spacecraft for the Moon, Zhou said.

China’s New-generation spaceship.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“The test spaceship that was successfully retrieved was designed both for the requirement of Earth orbit and the future manned exploration of the Moon, or even for manned deep space exploration,” Zhou said. “It will take the mission of manned spacecraft for the Moon in the future.”

To view the CCTV interview, go to:

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