China's first female astronaut heads to space

This week marks the first in which China will have sent a woman to space – in this case to the temporary space station Tiangong 1. This space module is approximately the size of a city bus and is currently floating 200 miles above the Earth, with astronaut Liu Yang aboard it. She was joined by two male astronauts and traveled to the space station in the spacecraft Shenzhou 9 this weekend. Yang is a 34-year old air force pilot and will be working with her co-pilots to monitor the life support systems of the Tiangong 1 module for 10 days.

This mission marks more than just a landmark in the history of China, it brings about the next generation for humanity as well. Not only has China moved a bit forward with their acceptance of females as viable members of our society, they're making what appears to be a rather large leap this week towards creating another sustainable, independently maintained space station in orbit around our Earth.

Currently the USA has a space station that's out there accepting shipments from the group SpaceX, and Russia has a space station that's been runny relatively smoothly up there for some time as well.

China's mission here will have two crew members aboard the module for several days monitoring the life support systems while the third crew member stays aboard the capsule to keep an eye on it. After 10 days, all three astronauts will head back to Earth where China notes they will land on Chinese grasslands with parachutes.

Have a great mission, China, and good luck to you, Liu Yang!

[via AP]