China Selects 18 Astronaut Candidates

A taikonaut emerges from China’s Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

The Global Times reports China has chosen 18 astronaut candidates as part of its third round of selections.

The 18 stand-by astronauts include seven pilots, seven engineers and four payload specialists. The latter two are selected for the first time into China’s astronaut team in order to meet the requirements of the construction of China’s space station. 

Pilots and engineers will be in charge of operating and managing the spacecraft and conducting technical experiments. The load experts will be responsible for on-orbit operation of scientific experimental payload. 

Pilots are selected from active pilots serving in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. Engineers are elected from engineering technicians in aerospace or related areas. Load specialists are selected from personnel in the fields of science research and application of manned space engineering. 

The story does not identify the 18 candidates. China is scheduled to begin launching the first modules of a permanent space station in 2021.