Liu Yang, along with two male astronauts, is heading to the Tiangong space lab. She will conduct aerospace medical experiments and other space tests there, Press TV reported.
“Arranging for women astronauts to fly is not only a must for the development of human spaceflight, but also the expectation of the public,” space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said.
The crew will spend over a week living and working on the vessel before manually docking to the prototype space lab in a key step toward building a permanent space station.
“The manual space rendezvous… is a huge test for astronauts’ ability to judge spatial position, eye-hand coordination and psychological abilities,” Jing Haipeng, who is heading the crew, said to reporters ahead of the launch.
So far the US and Russia are the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit.