Chinese astronauts have begun comprehensive space station training, marking the final step in China's human space project, specialist noted.
The Astronaut Center of China in Beijing announced Friday that astronaut training of tasks that will be used on the country's space station have started, China News Service reported.
Astronauts are being trained for long-term missions on the space station that will include extravehicular activities, assembling and maintaining the station and a large number of scientific experiments, Huang Weifen, deputy chief designer of the Astronaut Center of China, was quoted by the China News Service as saying.
China will launch the core module of its space station around 2020, China National Radio reported. Tiangong-2, China's space lab is now in orbit.
According to Huang, all the astronauts at the center have started to learn space station technology, mechanical arm technology and medicine.
They have also conducted underwater exercises to simulate a space walk and will take survival training in deserts.
"Scientific tasks are the key and this has brought out new requests for astronauts," Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.
Previously China's astronauts are mainly selected from pilots, Jiao said. "Now their selection also largely requires scientific knowledge."
"Astronauts will be selected from a broader group, such as university graduates or young scientists, who could serve as engineers to conduct technical tasks," Jiao said.
Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Astronaut Center of China.
Since the human space project was initiated in 1992, the center has trained 21 astronauts and developed more than 4,000 space products, including a space suit, the China News Service reported.
In September 1992, the government decided to implement a human space program and prescribed the "Three-step Strategy" of development, according to the official website of China Manned Space project.
The third step is to establish a space station.
China sent its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 in 2017, which successfully docked with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, as China entered the "new era of space stations," China News Service reported.
Newspaper headline: Astronaut training in final stages