China has succeeded in docking its first two spaceships in orbit this weekend — a remarkable success for China’s ambitious space program, but even more remarkable given that the country’s first female astronaut (called a “taikonaut” in China), Liu Yang, was on the journey.
But the avalanche of press on the subject has been somewhat bizarre, as John Hudson of the Atlantic Wire points out. Take, for example, the following list as featured on (state-owned) newspaper Global Times’ website:
Yep, there is no bad breath allowed in space — for women at least.
In an article accompanying the list, the attributes are explained by referring to an interview with Pang Zhihao, an expert from the Beijing-based China Academy of Space Technology.
“He explained that a bad mouth odor may annoy other astronauts, and scars may bleed in outer space.”
Fair enough, no one likes bad smells in space, but few other countries have been so public about the embarrassing practicalities of space travel — and none appears to have required their female astronauts to be unmarried or have already had children.
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