BEIJING, Oct 17 (AP) -- China hopes to conduct a space walk in 2007 and might recruit women into its next group of astronaut candidates, a senior space program official said Monday.
The Shenzhou 6 flight that ended early Monday completed the first stage of China's manned space development plan, which focused on development of space vehicles, said Tang Xianming, director of the China Space Engineering Office.
The next stage focuses on developing ways for astronauts to walk in space and the ability to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft, Tang said at a news conference.
"Our estimate is that around 2007 we will be able to achieve extravehicular activity by our astronauts and they will walk in space," he said.
Tang said he also expected to see female Chinese astronauts "in the not-too-distant future."
"At present, we do not have women participants among our astronaut candidates," he said. "But according to our development program and plans for manned space engineering, for the next round of selections, we might consider having some female astronauts."