China has selected 18 new astronauts for its upcoming space station project. The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced their selection on Thursday, which consists of seven pilots, seven spaceflight engineers and four payload specialists. The selection process began in May 2018, and had a total of 2,500 candidates with a final list that included one female as part of the crew.

According to an article on, the identities of the selected astronauts have not been released as the CMSA operates under the People's Liberation Army which follows restricted information regarding the mission,

Between the period of 1998 and 2010, the selection was only open to air force pilots but as China reflects on changing needs for its modular space station, the selection was opened to civilians.

The newly selected astronauts will undergo systematic training prior to joining the operational phase of the space station. The current and active astronauts from previous selection rounds are now undergoing neutral buoyancy training to equip them with viable skills for the space mission.

The space station will carry out science research such as Earth observation, weather monitoring and forecasting, life science, microgravity physics, astronomy, materials science as well as space medicine.

The spaceflight engineers were selected from engineering technicians in aerospace or related areas and will be focused on controlling and managing the space station and its technical issues. Payload specialists are selected from personnel in the fields of science research and application of manned space engineering. They will be mainly conducting on-orbit science experiments while in low Earth orbit.

The launch of the space station's core module takes place in the first half of 2021 as this will serve as the living quarters for the astronauts. The operational phase will require three astronauts going on six-month long rotations. Along with this, a two-metre-aperture space telescope called the Xuntian will be launched after the basic station configuration has been completed. It will have the capability to dock with the space station for repairs and regular maintenance.

China's most recent space mission was in 2016, the Shenzhou-11. It was the longest-duration of a crewed mission where Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong spent 33 days on board the Tiangong-2.

China is looking to mine the moon for the rare helium isotope for use as a future energy source
China is looking to mine the moon for the rare helium isotope for use as a future energy source China Space Agency