|On December 10, the six new aquanaut cadets were at the press conference held by the State Oceanic Administration.(Photo/People's Daily)|
On December 10, the State Oceanic Administration announced the recruitment of six new aquanaut cadets, including two women. They will be the reserve force for the future missions of the Jiaolong submersible.
Aged from 23 to 28, the six cadets are Liu Xiaohui, Qi Haibin, Yang Yifan, Zhang Yi, Chen Yunsai and Zhao Shengya. Zhang Yi from Harbin Engineering University and Zhao Shengya from Dalian Maritime University have become China’s first female aquanaut cadets.
As China's second cohort of aquanaut cadets, they were selected from candidates across the country in a public recruitment campaign. Through three rounds of fierce competition, the candidates undertook tests of their vocational ability, special skills, professional ability, physical fitness, psychological aptitude, and resistance to seasickness. They also underwent a comprehensive interview, with reexaminations on claustrophobia, oxygen sensitivity, medical history, etc. Ultimately, the six cadets stood out from over one hundred candidates.
According to Liu Feng, director of the National Deep Sea Center, the aquanaut not only pilots the Jiaolong and other submersibles, but also takes charge of routine maintenance, which is a technical job. In future, more people will join the aquanaut team.
The cadets will begin a two-year training program in 2014 and graduate as aquanauts if they pass evaluations in 2016. Once qualified as an aquanaut, they will independently pilot the submersible to carry out sea floor scientific research. Since the manned submersible has a standard atmospheric pressure and is not subject to weightlessness, psychological qualities are more important to an aquanaut than physical attributes. A manned submersible generally conducts dives of up to 12 hours, and the descent and ascent themselves can take several hours. During the process, the aquanaut will be in a dark enclosed environment, and stay for hours on the sea floor at a depth of thousands of meters.
A deep sea manned submersible usually has very limited space, and is equipped with many instruments. Jionglong’s inner diameter, for example, is only 2.1 meters. Due to the limited space, sanitary facilities are limited, so it is much more convenient to have a woman aquanaut piloting for a woman scientist.
Besides, according to Liu Feng, women are often more careful and patient, and these are good qualities for manned deep diving work. Worldwide, large numbers of women have been encouraged to achieve the necessary qualifications.
The training courses for the female cadets will be different from the male cadets, but the same standards will apply.
Edited and Translated by Kong Defang, People's Daily Online