1. China will send its first woman into space on Saturday along with two other astronauts to work on a temporary space station for about a week, in a key step toward becoming the only third nation to set up a permanent base in orbit. Liu Yang, a 34-year-old air force pilot, and two male colleagues will be launched aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which will dock with the bus-sized Tiangong 1 space module now orbiting at 343 kilometres (213 miles) above the Earth.
2. China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to have sent independently maintained space stations into orbit. It already is in the exclusive three-nation club to have launched a spacecraft with astronauts on its own.
3. Chinese state media have touted Liu’s accomplishments over the last week. Under the headline “Female astronaut was a hero pilot,” the state-run China Daily newspaper reported how she had “successfully dealt with a mid-air emergency” after her plane hit 18 pigeons, splattering the windshield with blood and filling the cockpit with a “burning smell.”
4. Selection requirements demand that the female astronaut be married and have given birth, according to a story in the newspaper of the Shaanxi Province Communist Party committee. She also must have no scars, bad breath or tooth decay, the China Daily newspaper said.