China has selected a third group of astronauts for the nation’s coming space station, the China Manned Space Agency announced on Oct. 1.
The 18 new astronauts — 17 men and one woman — fall into three groups. Seven were chosen from aviators from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and will become spacecraft pilots. Another seven will become spaceflight engineers and were researchers or technicians in aeronautics, astronautics and other related fields. The last four will be mission payload specialists and were selected from applicants involved in space science and to China’s piloted space program.
According to a report in China Daily, before this new selection, China had 21 astronauts from two recruiting rounds. Among them, 11 have flown during six space missions.
The selection for the third class began in April 2018, culling down the group from roughly 2,500 applicants.
On Sept. 30, a task force of 15 Republican congresspeople representing 11 committees in the U.S. House of Representatives released a detailed policy blueprint to counter the growing global threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The CCP is looking to become a space superpower, noted the document, which also discussed China’s space station efforts and which is available online.
“If the PRC [People’s Republic of China] succeeds in its efforts to launch its first long-term space station module in 2022, it will have matched the U.S.’ nearly 40-year progression from first human spaceflight to first space station module in less than 20 years,” the task force wrote. “The CCP is vocal about plans to establish a human base on the moon. The U.S. should be concerned about the technological innovations and leadership role for the CCP that could come from missions crewed by PRC-nationals to the moon.”