|China's astronauts Jing Haipeng (C), Liu Wang (R) and Liu Yang meet with media in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, June 15, 2012. The three astronauts will board Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on Saturday to fulfill China's first manned space docking mission. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
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JIUQUAN, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut to begin a space mission soon, met the media on Friday with male crewmates Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang.
The three astronauts will board the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on Saturday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China to complete the nation's first manned space docking mission.
"I am grateful to the motherland and the people. I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of female Chinese citizens," said Liu, who waved to domestic and foreign journalists with the rest of the crew behind a glass wall.
They have been put under medical quarantine since June 9 for the upcoming mission.
Dressed in a blue working suit, the 33-year-old married woman said that to be an astronaut, one has to obtain a great deal of theoretical knowledge, go through very challenging environmental training and pass tough examinations with no errors.
"Our sense of responsibility, as well as a passion for aerospace undertakings, are a source of courage to overcome difficulties," she said, wearing a smile on her face.
According to Jing Haipeng, commander of the mission, Liu Yang will be conducting aerospace medical experiments and other space tests, while Liu Wang will be in charge of manual docking maneuvers.
Liu Yang said many tasks have been arranged for the voyage. "Aside from fulfilling our tasks, I want to experience the fantastic environment in space and appreciate the beauty of Earth and our homeland."
"When I was a pilot, I flew in the sky. Now that I am an astronaut, I will fly in space. This will be a higher and farther flight," Liu said.
She said she will keep a detailed record of her feelings and experiences and share them with scientists and future astronauts when she comes back.
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft will bring the three astronauts into space to perform the docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, which conducted an automatic docking with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spaceship late last year.
Crew members will face severe psychological and physical tests during the upcoming mission, Jing said, adding that the mission crew has undergone extensive training to cope with the challenges.
"To ensure success, we have done more than 1,500 docking simulations and obtained the necessary operational skills," said Liu Wang, who has served the Chinese space program for 14 years.
Jing said the simulations have made the three a perfect team, adding that they can understand each other simply through "eye contact, a facial expression or a gesture."
"I will live up to your expectations and work with my teammates to complete this space mission," Liu Yang said, in a calm and steady tone.
All three crew members are former pilots of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). They are all members of the Communist Party of China.
Joining the Air Force in 1997, Liu was a veteran pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience and the deputy head of a PLA flight unit before being recruited as a prospective astronaut in May 2010. She is now an Air Force major.
After two years of training, which shored up her astronautic skills and adaptability to the space environment, Liu excelled in testing and was selected in March this year to crew the Shenzhou-9.
As China's manned space program develops, Chinese astronauts will be able to engage in regular space flights, said Jing Haipeng, the only astronaut who has participated twice in China's manned space missions.