China Begins Astronaut Recruitment, Invites International Experiments


China introduces the crew of the Shenzhou-15 mission ahead of launch.

Credit: CMSA

SINGAPORE—The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) says it has begun recruitment of new “reserve” astronauts, this time opening the process up to applicants from Hong Kong and Macau as it seeks payload experts.

Speaking to local media Nov. 28 ahead of the Shenzhou-15 manned mission, CMSA said its fourth recruitment process started in September and it is looking to hire 12 to 14 astronauts. 

Ji Qiming, CMSA assistant director, said the agency has received applications from researchers and teachers—including from Hong Kong and Macau—with expertise in biomedical engineering, machinery, electronics, material and chemistry, and that preliminary selection has begun. 

China picked seven pilots, seven flight engineers and four payload experts in its last recruitment process in October 2020.

Ji also announced that a number of projects selected by China, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and with the European Space Agency (ESA) are to be launched to China’s Tiangong space station in 2023. 

He added that China is welcoming astronauts from other countries to enter Tiangong and conduct experiments there. The CMSA is currently evaluating proposals sent by other countries to put its astronauts on Chinese space missions, he said.

China will launch Shenzhou-15 on Nov. 29. It will be the country’s first in-space handover of crew.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.