China's manned space program has entered the mission preparation stage with the selection of a new group of 18 reserve astronauts.
According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the reserve astronauts, including one female, have been selected recently from 2,500 candidates. Among them are seven spacecraft pilots, seven space flight engineers and four payload experts.
Flight engineers and payload experts have been selected for the first time as reserve astronauts to meet China's space station construction needs.
The mission preparation stage is not only expected to deliver more scientific research output but also boost the development of commercial space programs, international cooperation and popular science education, said Hao Chun, director general of the CMSA, at a space forum in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, on Tuesday.
He noted that based on the principles of openness, fairness and justice, China will pay attention to the layout planning in fields of material supply, application payloads, micro-satellites release, in-orbit maintenance, and space tourism, and gradually establish proper models for other parties to participate.
The completion of the space station will provide a broader scope for commercial space development and commercial operation can be a beneficial supplement of the station's functioning, he added.