(Visitors Attracted by the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation Booth at Airshow China 2016)
Two European astronauts, Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy and Germany's Matthias Maurer, both from the European Space Agency, took part in China's first sea survival training exercise, marking the first time foreign astronauts have participated in spaceflight-related training in China.
The 17-day training session was held in waters off Yantai, Shandong province, by the China Manned Space Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport's Beihai Rescue Bureau.
Sixteen Chinese astronaut — including Yang Liwei, the first Chinese citizen in space, and Jing Haipeng, the first Chinese astronaut to enter space three times — as well as Samantha and Matthias, were divided into six teams in the training session.
The exercise was designed to improve astronauts' sea survival, decision-making and emergency response capabilities and to boost their team spirit and collaboration capacity, according to a news release from the Chinese agency.
Each team had three members — one commander and two operators. At the beginning of the training, team members put on space suits and entered a mock re-entry capsule, which was taken out to sea on a ship and winched onto the water's surface.
Once at sea, they swapped their space suits for special uniforms designed for sea survival that can resist cold and provide extra buoyancy before leaving the re-entry capsule and boarding inflatable boats. After receiving a signal, a helicopter or rescue ship approached the boats to pick them up.
China's new astronauts will go through the same training before they undertake spaceflight, the China Manned Space Agency said.
The China Manned Space Agency and European Space Agency signed an agreement in May 2015 to boost collaboration in manned space.