Sources in China have confirmed the identity of one of the two female Air Force pilots currently vying to become China’s first woman in space as Captain Wang Yaping, 32, a Transport Pilot in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force(PLAAF), acoording to Tony Quine today.
Wang had been widely identified in the Chinese media as one of five pilots from the province of Shandong included in the group of fifteen female candidates, but Chinese space officials had refused to name any of the seven new taikonauts actually chosen, even though the names of their fourteen colleagues, selected in 1996 and 1998 are widely known. However sources in China, close to the Chinese manned space program, have recently confirmed that Wang is now being trained at the Chinese Astronaut Training Centre, near Beijing, with another woman pilot.
Whilst China has not given a official details of when it intends to send Captain Wang, or her unidentified colleague into space, several statements from leading officials, including Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in space, strongly suggest that they are aiming for the two or three person, Shenzhou 10 mission, currently planned to dock with the Tiangong 1 orbital module in late 2012. More at NASASpaceflight.com and CollectSpace.com.