Childless astronauts need not apply

China requires that ladies who want to blast into space must be married mothers

By Tracy Clark-Flory
March 10, 2010 4:10AM (UTC)
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Two women have become China's first female astronauts thanks to a critical qualification: They are wives and mothers. Yeah, they know how to fly a spacecraft and stuff, but they also meet the country's requirement that its women reproduce before traveling in space, according to The Guardian.

The reasoning here is that hurtling through outer space could damage women's fertility, according to Xu Xianrong, an expert at the country's Air Force General Hospital. "It's out of the consideration of being responsible for the female pilots," he told the official government news agency Xinhua. "Though there is little evidence on how the space experience will affect the female constitution, we have to be extra cautious." Evidence, shmevidence. Of course, he doesn't mention any fears about men's fertility. I wonder whether the requirement has to do with China's shortage of girls and women, or whether this is just your run-of-the-mill case of paternalism.


On a different note Xianrong said that, as the Guardian paraphrases, women generally have "advantages as astronauts over men because they were more mentally stable, better able to bear loneliness and had better communication skills." Sex stereotypes: Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they work against you -- whaddayagondo.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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