Chinese Astronauts of the Shenzhou-10 mission, males Nie Haisheng and Zhang Xiaoguang as well as female Wang Yaping, met the press on Monday ahead of the shuttle launch on Tuesday.
The three astronauts will board the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. They will fly for 15 days, the longest time in the country’s manned space program.
Sitting under a national flag and separated from the media by a transparent glass wall, the three astronauts appeared in good condition.
The 48-year-old Major General Nie is commander of this mission, and responsible for the manual docking operation with the Tiangong-1 target orbiter. In October 2005, Nie successfully carried out the Shenzhou-6 mission.
The 47-year-old Zhang acts as assistant for the commander, and will help Nie carry out tasks including operating the spacecraft, manual docking and the spacecraft’s separation from Tiangong-1. Zhang will also be the cameraman for a teaching lesson, which is planned to be given from space.
Wang, 33, is the second Chinese female astronaut after Liu Yang in the Shenzhou-9 mission, in June last year.
Wang will be responsible for monitoring the conditions of the spacecraft, space experiments, operation of equipment and taking care of fellow crew members. She will also be the lecturer of the space lesson for students.
“Compared to the Shenzhou-6 mission, this mission will be longer, with more experiments to be conducted, so it will be a new challenge with greater risks,” Nie told the media, “I’m looking forward to the moment of entering Tiangong-1.”
“No matter a soldier or a general, one should feel proud about the mission. We will be courageous during the mission without any hesitation,” said Nie.
Zhang Xiaoguang has been waiting for his first mission for 15 years.
“Flying into space is my dream. Seeking to fulfill the dream, I have had gains and joys, but also difficulties and frustrations. I deeply feel that all gains come from hard work,” said Zhang, who encouraged people never to give up their dreams.
Wang said she will illustrate the phenomena of physics through interactions with students and teachers on Earth.
“Facing the vast universe, we are all students,” said Wang. “We are looking forward to joining our young friends to learn and explore the mystical and beautiful universe.”
Zhang said during the mission they will conduct a number of experiments, and carry out the same work and rest timetable when they are on Earth.
Based on different appetites of the three astronauts, experts have customized recipes for them.
They will be served fresh fruit, millet congee, yogurt, and zongzi, or rice dumpling for the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on June 12 this year.
Wang said she will experience the life in space zero gravity with a curious mind.
“I like photography, music, basketball, as well as traveling. But I have little time to go out due to work. So I’m looking forward to this journey in space, and I will share what I see, what I feel and what I understand with you all,” said Wang.
“With cameras, we will record every beautiful moment during the journey,” said Zhang.
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