|This undated photo shows Liu Yang, 34, one of the three taikonauts who will be carried by the Shenzhou-9 spaceship for China's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module. Liu was selected as a taikonaut in 2010. (Xinhua/Qin Xian'an)
JIUQUAN, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Liu Yang, a 33-year-old former pilot, has been selected as China's first female astronaut, taking her place as one of three members of China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft crew.
As the long-awaited threesome was unveiled on Friday, it was revealed that the crew also includes Jing Haipeng, who will become China's first astronaut to travel twice into space, when Shenzhou-9 is scheduled to take off at 6:37 p.m. Saturday.
All three crew members are former pilots of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). They are all members of the Communist Party of China.
Enlisted in the army in 1997, Liu was a veteran pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience and the deputy head of a flight unit of the PLA's Air Force before being recruited into China's second batch of prospective astronauts in May 2010. She is now an air force major.
After two years of training that has shored up her astronautic skills and adaptability to the space environment, Liu excelled in testing and was selected in March this year as a candidate to crew the Shenzhou-9.