State media has confirmed that one of the two female astronauts from the initial seven-strong crew roster for Shenzhou-9’s manned docking mission with the space module, Tiangong-1, will be among the three-person flight crew. They have been named as Liu Yang (on the far left in the photo) and Yang Waping. The two women are military-transport pilots from the PLA-Air Force’s Wuhan flight unit. Both are 34 years old, married and are mothers of one. They joined the space program in 2010.
Reading the runes as best we can, we think that Liu, who holds the more senior rank, major v captain, is said once to have made a successful emergency landing after her cargo plane flew into a flock of pigeons–the stuff of hero myth building– will be the one to get the nod. The first window for the Shenzhou-9 launch is June 16th.
Update: Liu has been confirmed as a member of the flight crew.