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Space agencies combine for survival tests

By Angus McNeice in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-27 16:55

Astronauts from China and Europe are to undertake an extreme sea survival training exercise of the coast of Shandong province.

In the first such maneuver in Chinese waters, astronauts Ye Guangfu and Chen Dong will be joined by Italy's Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer, of Germany, on the 10-day joint training program in Yantai in late August.

Part of the challenge involves the quartet being left at sea with limited supplies and equipment.

The sea drill is part of a collaboration agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and China's Manned Space Agency.

"The objective of the cooperation with CMSA is to fly a European astronaut on the Chinese Space Station in 2022," ESA spokesman Pal Hvistendahl said.

The sea exercise is designed to prepare the astronauts to survive an emergency landing in an extreme environment, such as water, desert, tropical rain forest or on a glacier. The have to learn to live for long periods on basic items provided in a space capsule's emergency pack.

"This sea survival training is now a further step towards a future cooperation between Europe and China in the area of astronautic space travel," Maurer told German newspaper Der Spiegel: "I would be really happy to fly with my Chinese colleagues.''

The European and Chinese space agencies have significantly strengthened ties in recent months.

Earlier this year, the China National Space Administration said it had discussed several joint proposals with the ESA, including a base on the Moon.

China launched the unmanned Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space labs into orbit in 2011 and 2016 respectively. The labs allow China's space agency to test the technology required to build a permanent, staffed space station.

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