China will consider helping to train European astronauts and is making technical preparations to do so, according to a senior Chinese space scientist.
Huang Weifen, deputy research chief of the Astronaut Center of China, said on July 20 that it is highly likely that China will open some training sessions for European space explorers, as this is on the agenda of Chinese space authorities.
The Chinese and European space communities have benefited from their cooperation in astronaut training, she said.
Huang said that in January 2013, European astronauts took part in a weeklong exchange and training program in China, and the two sides later agreed to enhance training collaboration.
“Once the government approves the training plan, we can start it immediately, because we have been making preparations for a long time and we have such capabilities,” she said.
Huang made the remarks at a news conference at the Astronaut Center of China, which is in a Beijing suburb, during which Ye Guangfu, one of China’s newest astronauts, was introduced.
Ye, 36, a Chengdu native, recently finished a week of underground training in Italy that was organized by the European Space Agency. He is the first Chinese astronaut to participate in multinational training.
The training is called Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising. The program, launched in 2011, is designed to hone astronauts’ skills in multi cultural approaches to leadership, following orders, teamwork and decision-making.
Ye, who joined astronauts from the United States, Russia, Spain and Japan, was responsible for exploring unknown areas in the cave, analyzing data, creating a 3-D model and monitoring the underground environment.
Li Xinke, a senior official at the Astronaut Center, said Ye did very well during the training and was highly recognized by his foreign counterparts.
“Space missions often involve high pressure, high risks, isolation and other negative elements that would affect a crew’s morale and interpersonal relations,” Li said. “Therefore, the cave training is useful for astronauts to improve their adaptation to extreme environments.”
According to the Astronaut Center, Ye was an experienced fighter jet pilot with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force before being selected by China’s manned space authority in 2010. He has 1,100 hours of flight time.