BEIJING--China's first female astronaut, dubbed the "flying goddess," blasted into space June 16, triggering a media frenzy.
Two days after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the Shenzhou 9 and its crew--including 33-year-old Liu Yang--docked with the orbiting Chinese module Tiangong-1. Liu, an air force pilot, will perform medical experiments during the mission.
Chinese media has devoted huge coverage to the native of Henan province, dubbed "China's rose" by some newspapers.
According to the accounts, Liu is an only child from a family in a rural district who did not particularly stand out as a student.
She enjoyed TV dramas centered on the legal profession and once dreamed of becoming a lawyer.
During her third year at high school, the air force began recruiting female pilots, and Liu's homeroom teacher applied for the position on her behalf without asking her, because she did well at school and her eyesight and height met the requirements.
She became a pilot and got to fly transport planes and other aircraft.
Liu was named an astronaut candidate two years ago.
She married a colleague in 2004. Training has kept her so busy that she can return home only on weekends, but she says she is satisfied.
"The happiness I enjoy during flights is something other people cannot experience," she was quoted as saying. "I treasure it."
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