The two women selected to fly on Shenzhou-9 also need to be married and have given birth
On an unspecified date in the near future, China will launch a spaceship to perform its first manned space docking mission and at the same time become the eighth country to have one of its female citizens in space.
But being one of these two female astronauts, known as taikonauts, isn't easy. There is a list of qualifications each woman must meet to win the chance to fly.
According to The China Post, the women must be married, have given birth naturally, have no scars and no body odour.
"They even must not have decayed teeth because any small flaw might cause great trouble or disaster in space," said Pang Zhihao, deputy editor-in-chief of Space International magazine under the China Academy of Space Technology, to the Post.
Pang said a scar may open and body odour would be bad in the cramped spaces.
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Xu Xianrong, a professor with the General Hospital of the People's Liberation Army Air Force, told the Post female taikonauts must be married and have given birth to ensure they are mature enough.
If this were the case in the U.S., Canadian Roberta Bondar wouldn't have broken the bonds of Earth. She became the first Canadian woman in space in 1992 aboard Discovery, but isn't married.
The first woman in space was Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova of the Soviet Union. She wouldn't have been able to fly either under the Chinese rules as she got married six months after she flew on the Vostok-6 mission in 1963.
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The docking mission will mark a breakthrough as China aims to build a space station by 2020. The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft and its carrier rocket were vertically transferred to the launch pad Saturday. Chinese media are reporting June 16 has been selected as the first launch opportunity for the trip that is expected to last 15 to 20 days. The Shenzhou-9 will dock with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module and conduct experiments. This will be the first manned docking for China, but the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft successfully docked with the floating lab twice by remote control.
According to Global Times, the two female astronauts chosen are Liu Yang and Wang Yaping. They are both 34 years old and are each married with one child. They were picked from seven candidates who started training three years ago and are fighter pilots.
"This (the mission) paves the way to independently building a space station in the future," said Pang to Global Times.
While it may be tough for these women to just get on the mission, Pang told the Post females tend to be more "keen and sensitive with better communication skills." This could come in handy on a long mission, such as going to Mars.
(Reuters photo of Shenzhou-9 waiting to be transferred to the launch pad)