Status: Active 1998-on. Born: 1966-10-29. Spaceflights: 1 . Total time in space: 2.85 days. Birth Place: Heilongjiang Province.
Chinese pilot taikonaut 1998-on. In the 05/2003 issue of Fliegerrevue, this was one of 12 new names listed as Chinese astronauts in training. Selected in 2008 as prime crew of Shenzhou 7 1 spaceflight, 2.9 days in space. Flew to orbit on Shenzhou 7 (2008).
Selection of astronauts to fly the Project 921 / Shenzhou manned spacecraft began at the end of 1995. Only PLAAF pilots were considered. Review of service records identified 1504 candidates, further reduced to 886 after stricter screening. In the summer of 1996, 60 candidates passed initial testing at their home bases and were sent to Beijing for final tests and interviews. By April 1997 the candidate list had been pared down to 20, and the final 12 were selected at the end of 1997. The group was officially established in January 1998. In March, 1998, the two Chinese astronauts trained in Russia in 1996, who were also the trainers of this first group of 12 cosmonauts, joined the group officially as candidates for future spaceflights, bringing the total to 14.
Moved up from October 13. Second Chinese manned space mission. The two-astronaut crew spent 5 days in space, and worked in the Shenzhou orbital module for the first time. Aside from biomedical experiments, the nature of their work was not divulged, and few images of the interior of the orbital module (with its probable military experiments) were released.
Third Chinese manned space mission. The crew consisted of Zhai Zhigang, backup astronaut for China's first manned space mission; and Liu Buoming and Jing Haipeng, backups for the second mission. The astronauts demonstrated the capability of the Shenzhou spacecraft to carry its full complement of three crew for the first time. Zhai, wearing a Chinese-developed Feitian space suit, emerged from the orbital module of the Shenzhou and became China's first astronaut to conduct a spacewalk. Liu, wearing a proven Russian Orlan spacesuit, remained in the depressurized orbital module, ready to assist Zhai in an emergency. A subsatellite, weighing 40 kg, was released after the EVA, and relayed back images of Shenzhou 7 from close range to a distance of several kilometers. The crew returned safely to earth in a pinpoint landing in Outer Mongolia, carried live on television. The orbital module remained in space, conducting space network experiments with the subsatellite.
Zhai, wearing a Chinese-developed Feitian space suit, emerged from the orbital module of the Shenzhou and became China's first astronaut to conduct a spacewalk. Liu, wearing a proven Russian Orlan spacesuit, remained in the depressurized orbital module, ready to assist Zhai in an emergency.