China has unveiled the three-person crew for its first manned docking spaceflight set to launch Saturday (June 16) — a mission that will send the country’s first female astronaut into orbit in the process.
The crew of China’s Shenzhou 9 space docking mission met reporters today (June 15) at the country’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center ahead of Saturday’s planned launch at 6:37 p.m. local time (6:37 a.m. EDT or 1037 GMT). The three astronauts, or taikonauts as China’s spaceflyers are known, include male crewmembers Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and the country’s first woman to fly in space: the 34-year-old Liu Yang.
“I am grateful to the motherland and the people,” Liu Yang said in a press conference according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. “I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of female Chinese citizens.”