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Chen Dong selected to join Shenzhou-11 missions


10-16-2016 09:59 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

In past years, China's astronauts have ventured into space with various aerospace missions. Today, the country is counting on the younger generation to conduct future missions. And for the upcoming missions on Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2, ex-fighter pilot Chen Dong has been selected.

Six years of tough, systematic training.

38-year-old Chen Dong has transformed himself from a fighter pilot to a qualified astronaut.

Five new male astronauts were in the running for the upcoming space missions, but Chen will be the first one in space.

He will be accompanied by Jing Haipeng, who has been in space before, to complete missions between the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and Tiangong-2 space lab.

"My current focus is on how to complete the mission perfectly, so I am feeling relatively calm. But I was very excited when it was announced that I was chosen. I felt so, so lucky to join the mission after 6 years of training," Chen said.

Chen hails from central China's Henan province. He used pilot the Q-5 supersonic light fighter. In 2010, he joined the astronaut training program after passing tests with flying colors. This includes clinical medicine knowledge, as well as physical and psychological tests.

"I didn't know much about aerospace, so we needed to spend extra time and energy to study basic theories. There was quite a tight schedule to learn a lot of theories, and we felt much pressure at that time. There was only one or two weeks to finish a course that usually takes several months. So we studied and discussed day and night," Chen said.

Hard work pays off. Chen will join veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng to accomplish the longest space journey in Chinese history.

"We are quite confident of our younger generation astronauts. Chen is outstanding in all fields and he doesn't have obvious shortcomings. He is committed, smart, and strong minded," said Huang Weifen, deputy chief designer of China Astronaut Center.

"There was a lot of effort in training during the past 6 years, physically and mentally. I think we have met the requirements of a qualified astronaut to conduct manned aerospace missions," Chen said.

Chen says teamwork is vital to help him achieve his goal. All the members on his team worked with each other closely, and share a close bond. He says a strong astronaut recruitment and training system will ensure China's aerospace missions blast off towards greater heights.

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