Woman astronaut gets her own toilet and bedroom

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am


For the country's first female astronaut, the Tiangong-1 space lab module will feature a toilet facility specially designed for women, as well as a separate bedroom area where she will be able to sleep and groom herself in private during the 10-day docking.

And yes, she will be allowed to bring basic cosmetics with her.

The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft, which will carry two men and a woman to the space lab, successfully completed a 4?-hour drill yesterday, Xinhua reported. The ship will launch as early as Saturday, depending on conditions.

The whole mission will take 13 days, during which the spacecraft will dock for the first time with Tiangong-1, which was launched in September and is now orbiting earth.

While the mission boasts many new features and important scientific goals, much of the media attention has been focused on the two shortlisted female astronaut candidates, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping, both veteran pilots aged 34.

Space technology expert Pang Zhihao was quoted by the Beijing Morning Post yesterday as saying that the female astronaut would enjoy plenty of privacy and special care on the Tiangong-1. For example, while there are no shower facilities aboard the space lab, the woman would be able to clean herself privately in her bedroom. And, in accordance with international practice, more water will be rationed for her use. She will also be allowed to bring simple cosmetics that would not pollute the lab environment.

According to mainland media yesterday, one of the astronauts' main missions is to test the recycling abilities of the Tiangong-1, which includes the turning of sweat and breath vapour into water, the breaking up of water to provide oxygen, and the conversion of urine into water - although the astronauts will not be drinking such recycled water during this trip.

As this would be the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in space, they are also equipped with specially designed weight-resistance gear to help them stay in shape in the weightless environment. They will test a range of medical equipment to see if they function in such an environment.

A system has been installed to detect and filter out pollutants, while also giving readings of PM2.5 air pollutants. And the astronauts will also simulate a fire drill during this mission.