First space­woman be­comes amom

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

China’s first fe­male as­tro­naut has be­come a mom and is un­der­go­ing train­ing for her next mission, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese me­dia.

Liu Yang, who took part in the Shen­zhou IX mission in June 2012, con­firmed on Tues­day that she is now a mother as she at­tended an award cer­e­mony in Bei­jing for the fam­i­lies of mem­bers of the mil­i­tary, Global Times re­ported onWed­nes­day.

She did not give any de­tails about her fam­ily, and the pa­per quoted her as say­ing, “We are con­tin­u­ing the train­ing to make ready for the next mission.”

Liu is the only deputy to the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress among the coun­try’s 21 as­tro­nauts.

When China de­cided to se­lect two fe­male as­tro­nauts in the early 2000s, ex­perts wanted to choose mar­ried moth­ers.

“Mar­ried women who have a child or some chil­dren are be­lieved to be com­par­a­tively stead­ier and more ex­pe­ri­enced in their pro­fes­sion, so the space au­thor­i­ties tended to choose them as as­tro­nauts,” an ex­pert close to China’s space agency said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“An­other con­sid­er­a­tion that was not dis­cussed openly was that they were very cau­tious about the pos­si­ble ef­fects of space ra­di­a­tion on women’s fer­til­ity, though there is no ev­i­dence that it causes harm.

“Con­sid­er­ing that m a n y f em a l e as­tro­nauts from for­eign na­tions have given birth to chil­dren who are quite healthy af­ter com­plet­ing mis­sions, there should be no con­cern about a space­woman’s health or fer­til­ity.”

China’s space au­thor­i­ties have since changed the se­lec­tion stan­dards and now say the ideal fe­male can­di­date is a mar­ried women who has not yet given birth, he added.

Fifty-nine women have flown in space, out of to­tal of 536 who have left Earth.

An ear­lier re­port by Time mag­a­zine said med­i­cal spe­cial­ists be­lieve it is ac­tu­ally male as­tro­nauts whose re­pro­duc­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties are more vul­ner­a­ble.

Richard Jen­nings, who prac­tices gyne­col­ogy and aerospace medicine in theUnited States, was quoted as say­ing, “As far as the acute ef­fects of ra­di­a­tion, men are much more at risk than women since the sper­mato­go­nia are very sen­si­tive to ra­di­a­tion.”

Shen­zhou IX was the first manned space­craft to dock with the Tian­gong 1 space sta­tion. Liu was one of three as­tro­nauts who took part in the 13-day mission.

Liu Yang, China's first fe­male as­tro­naut

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