|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 IX spacecraft crew. She is a former pilots of the People's
Liberation Army (PLA) and is a member 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 IX.
|Liu Yang, daughter of a regular family in Henan province, grew up to
be China's first woman astronaut with persistence and a clear goal.
Liu was born into a worker's family in Zhengzhou,
capital city of Central China's Henan province, in 1978. As the only child,
she was not spoiled by her parents but modest and obedient, relatives and
neighbors frequently pointed out.
"When she was studying in high school, the
factories where her parents worked had a bad performance, forcing her father
to make money by repairing bicycles on the street," said Wang Huizhen,
one of their neighbors in the community where they lived
for 14 years.
"Though wearing simple clothes, she always
had a bright smile to greet us and liked to play badminton with her father
in the community yard," she said. "Though we haven't met for years, the
deepest impression on me is her big smile when she was with her parents."
During her school years, she always received
excellent grades thanks to her diligence. "She sometimes would stand in
front of the class to teach the others like a teacher," said Wang Xiuju,
the teacher in charge of her class in middle school.
But when a flight company came to her school
to recruit pilots, she was attracted by this mysterious career but disappointed
to know it was only open to boy. So when a military aviation school opened
to girls, she immediately applied and was enrolled after her graduation
from high school in 1997. "It was my turning point," Liu Yang was quoted
as saying by Beijing News on June 12.
But when her training began, she found the
life was totally different from her expectations. She once wrote to her
friends saying her happiness had gone, but their replies changed her mind.
"You are in a great position to embrace a wider sky and witness the beautiful
scene in your life. Please cherish your opportunity," one letter read.
It made Liu change her view on the hard training,
and she developed hobbies in her free time, such as learning the clarinet.
"When we first joined the army, we were told that women and men would not
be treated differently. Female pilots can achieve the same goals as the
male ones," she said in an exclusive interview in 2009. "I make it my principle."
Every morning, she would run for at least
5 kilometers in summer and winter to boost energy and health. "I still
remember the first time when I ran 10 kilometers, like I could not breathe
anymore." She always said that physical strength and persistence are important
during the training to become a qualified pilot.
As she said in an English contest, "Life never
changes, but your view on life makes it beautiful".