Female astronaut takes new role of legislator, dreams of being "moon goddess"

2018-03-09 02:21:55 GMT2018-03-09 10:21:55(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Astronaut Wang Yaping is in thespotlight again, but this time not for space travel. Instead, shedebuted in a new role -- lawmaker -- at the annual session ofChina's national legislature.

With her signature ponytail, a neat military uniform and a widesmile, Wang, together with another nine deputies to the 13thNational People's Congress (NPC), met the press for the first"passage interview" arranged for the opening day of the annualpolitical meeting on Monday.

On the path leading toward the main hall of the Great Hall ofthe People, Wang described her experience of giving a televisedscience lesson to Chinese students in 2013 as "an unforgettablemoment."

Wang's appearance at the political session has attractedextensive media coverage.

Some netizens praised Wang for her devotion and perseverance.Some called her a "space heroine" and referred to a poem byChairman Mao to depict her as a female soldier who loves "to facethe powder and not to powder the face."

As China's second female astronaut to enter space, Wang waselected from the country's armed forces as one of 2,980 deputies toChina's 13th NPC. Before that, China's first female astronaut inspace, Liu Yang, served for a five-year term as a deputy to the12th NPC.

During the ongoing first session of the 13th NPC, Wang, alongwith other deputies elected from all walks of life, will electstate officials, review the government work report and discuss theConstitution revision.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Wang said that she andother astronauts are preparing for work on the space station, asChina plans to build a permanent manned space station by 2022.

Wang Yaping became a well-known figure in June 2013 aftertravelling for 15 days on the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft with two malecrewmates, Nie Haisheng and Zhang Xiaoguang.

In one of the highlights of the mission, Wang delivered China'sfirst televised science lecture to an audience of over 60 millionschoolchildren and teachers across China. The lecture on basicphysics principles lasted for 40 minutes and ignited the spacedreams of millions of Chinese students.

Teacher and former NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan wrote a letterto Wang to express her pride and joy upon hearing the news.

Wang joined the Taikonaut Corps of the People's Liberation Armyas part of China's second group of astronauts in 2010. The corpsrecruited its first group of 14 male astronauts in 1998 when it wasfounded.

During the past 20 years, 11 Chinese astronauts have completedsix manned spaceflights, conducted over 100 experiments and orbitedthe earth for a total of 68 days and nights.

Born with a love for challenge, Wang recalled that she felt nofear returning from space.

"I just felt an overwhelming sense of achievement. I hadfulfilled my dream," she said.

She can trace her bravery back to her childhood experience in aquiet village in east China's Shandong Province, where shedeveloped a love for running.

"I always ran for the challenge and for the great joy afterrunning over hills and across fields," she said, recalling herchildhood.

Wang continued her path of bravery and was enrolled in 1997 as apilot at an Air Force flight academy, where she tasted theexcitement of sending a plane into dive for the first time duringtraining.

Looking toward the future, Wang said that if she has the chanceto land on the moon, she would like to dress like Chang'e, the moongoddess in a Chinese fairy tale, with a pet rabbit in her arms.Enditem