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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: China’s Latest Space Shot

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Two Chinese astronauts have started a month-long mission in space. It’s the sixth time China has sent people into space—and this trip will be the longest.  It’s also unusual because of the age of one of the astronauts. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

China’s oldest astronaut will celebrate his 50th birthday next week—in space.  According to profiles in the Chinese media, most of his colleagues are 10 to 15 years younger.  Jing Haipeng was part of the first class of Chinese astronauts in 1998….and the first to make a return trip to space.  This mission will be his third.  While he’s China’s oldest astronaut, he’s far from the oldest person to go into space.  John Glenn was still serving as a US senator when he went on a space shuttle run in 1998….at the age of 77.  As with Glenn, Jing was a military pilot before his days of space travel.

The South China Morning Post reports Jing was also a basketball player—and the quick reflexes developed on the basketball court played a role in his selection.  A medical researcher involved in the process said other important characteristics include remaining calm under pressure….and developing the ability to sleep under various conditions—especially when stressed.  It will take the Chinese crew about two days to reach their orbiting laboratory….and then they’ll stay for a month.

The Chinese are building a permanent space station which is expected to be fully operational by 2022.  The US led International Space Station (which does not include the Chinese) is scheduled to wrap up its scientific work in 2024.

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