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China is considering sending two female astronauts into space on its first manned missions to its space lab module next year. An unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou-8, is launching this evening and will be testing space docking with Tiangong-1. If the mission is successful, China is planning Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 next year, at …

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at least one of which will be manned

Or womanned.

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Meh

Token?

I wonder whether this will turn out to be a genuine gesture of gender equality, or a one-of like in the soviet space program.

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Devil

Re: Token

Russia had the first woman in space (20 years before America?), the reason why the US have a (more) balanced gender set up is probably more due to the fact that governmental funding is only available when there is equal gender opportunities, a requirement that was put into the start of the space shuttle programe... which "coincidentally" is when women started to fly in the US space program (but not until STS-7), despite passing all the requirements, no women were selected for early (pre shuttle) missions.

The Russians probably had a more pragmatic (and politically incorrect) approach, when you are talking elite of the elite the likelihood is that men will have the edge, this may seem a rather sexist comment (and I suppose it is), but consider athletics, men can generally work harder, for longer (think marathons, the mens record is 15 mins faster than the womens), this is a simple biological fact due to maximal oxygen consumption (vo2max) which is higher in men (and higher in male elite athletes than women athletes), also the way that oestrogen affects metabolism means that when working longer, women will burn fat before carbs, again this gives an endurance advantage to men. There's a similar advantage in IQ, with men being (on average) 5 points higher, there's twice as many men at IQ 125 than women, and five times as many at genius level (155).

So, purely on the numbers, smart, elite athletes (pretty much a requirement for an astronaut) are more likely to be men, it would have to be a truly exceptional woman to get to the same level, the fact that NASA have no choice but to take women (or lose their funding) probably has more to do with their choice (when Russia had no such constraint).

I'm not sure if this counts as gender equality or not.

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Coat

Am I the only one

to have read that as "two female talkonauts"? If they're anything like my wife I hope they have a good mobile plan as the roaming charges from space could be astronomical!

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Good to see a country serious about space. Hopefully this will give the US some incentive to invest in space technologies again too.

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Headmaster

Docking

If the Chinese pull this off, and there's no reason they won't, I believe it will make them only the second nation to make a completely unmanned docking after Russia. The USA have docked a lot of things, but there has always been a pilot driving at least one of the craft involved.

You could also include ESA, which isn't a country of course, although both ATVs docked automatically with a manned space station.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Docking

"The USA have docked a lot of things, but there has always been a pilot driving at least one of the craft involved."

It baffles me why they didn't spring for a docking computer. How much was that again? 1500 Cr.?

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Pirate

But only available at tech level 9 and above. Not so many of them in multi-gov systems...

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heh

Elite was so, like, 27 years ago, man...

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Facepalm

"We must [...] verify if human beings can live in space."

Was something lost in translation or has the Chinese astronaut corps been under a rock since, well, before it even existed?

This rationale ranks lower than "we want to do it for the lulz."

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Just launch the Tsien already !

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@Roadkill

Depends what their goal is. In spite of having the ISS, the countries involved in that haven't put a great deal of work into long-term living up there. They're only really going for short-term survival, given loss of muscle tone and bone mass, which is why the crew need regular replacement. If the Chinese are going to look seriously at this, it'd be a big step forward.

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Boffin

Interesting.

I've long wondered, given that every gram of mass sent into orbit costs megabucks, and that the fairer sex are on average rather a lot less massive than us grunts, why there aren't many more female astronauts. Most odd.

GJC

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Space Girls

I guess periods and peeing are more complicated in space. Obviously not impossible though.

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Gold badge

Every gram

In practice, once you've gone to the effort of putting a reliable life support system into space, the additional mass of actually putting a person inside is fairly small and the differences between one person and another are insignificant.

If you were actually in the business of optimising your budget, you'd use a robot for messing about in Earth orbit. You'd use a less reliable rocket to put up much less mass and save millions on every mission.

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periods are not a problem

Women can use the contraceptive pill to delay having a period for months. Female athletes and adventurers do this when a period would be best avoided. No problem.

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TRT
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I just wanted to say...

I love the name Wu Ping.

Carry on.

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Bronze badge
Coat

well then...

"Space exploration activities would be 'incomplete' without the participation of female astronauts. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink," he added.

There, I fixed it for you.

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Anonymous Coward

a woman and a monkey....

Like the old joke of sending a woman and a monkey into space:

Ground Control to Monkey: Program the Navigation System, set booster controls, check all Life Support Systems.

Ground Control to Woman: Feed the monkey and don't touch any buttons.

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Bronze badge

<Sigh>

I miss Sarah.

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Talkonauts?

"Manned 2012 spaceships could have two female taikonauts"

hahah on first glance I read the sub title as taLkonauts rather than taikonauts.

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Anonymous Coward

"Heavenly Palace"

sounds like the worlds most exclusive bordello

'you want round the world, astro-boy?'

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