China's future astronauts can't have bad breath, cavities, or scars if they hope to join the next wave of Chinese space exploration. Hospitals have begun the first of three rounds of tests to weed out candidates who fail to meet the rigorous standards.
Body odor could put off fellow astronauts in the confines of a spacecraft, and presumably lower morale, while scars could potentially burst during spacecraft acceleration. Astronauts also cannot have any family history of serious illness, going back three generations.
"The candidates who go through all the tests and meet all the requirements can really be called super-human beings," said Shi Binbin, director of the department of air logistics at the No. 454 Hospital, in a China Daily story.
China is only the third nation to conduct a spacewalk, and has stepped up plans to launch its own military space station by 2010. It has also begun planning a manned mission to possibly beat NASA back to the moon.
Hundreds of college-educated fighter pilots have already begun jockeying for the honor of becoming taikonauts. They face 100 tests designed to push their mental and physical limits.
Still, all the training and health in the world won't help candidates if a spouse puts her foot down. AFP reports that prospective astronaut's wives will get the final say as to whether their husbands ever make it into space.
The same would likely apply for husbands of potential astronauts, given that China has begun recruiting its first crop of female taikonauts.
Whatever the success of its screening process, China might want to take a cue from Japan when it comes to fighting B.O. in space -- a pair of odorless undies can go a long way.
good job china. you did something good for a change.
I don't want to know how many millions of tax payer money ( US or Chinese ) were spent on this. Of course I am sure that when you have 10 individuals stuck in a multi-billion dollar space station for months at a time, a thing like bad breath could quickly make an episode of the real world seem like a children's show. Last think you want is for your space station to break because of a zero gravity fight between cosmonauts over bad breath.
Given that most other space-faring nations now seem to require little more of astronauts than a good level of general physical fitness, and, for space tourists, the only requirements seem to be enough cash to pay their way, I think the Chinese are being overly-cautious in their requirements.
The Russians, Americans, and Europeans all had similar restrictions back when space travel was entirely new and unknown but, since they now know what's required of space travellers, such rigorous 'specifications' for a prospective astronaut seem pretty redundant.
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great article ,
i am a dentist and i really believe that bad breath sometimes can be the first appearing sign of some serious general medical condition. i read before that some of the pioneers in medicine was able to diagnose really hard to diagnose conditions by smiling the patient room
As most cases of bad breath can generally be cured it seems a bit harsh that someone who has spent their life to become an astronaut could have this opportunity taken away because of this problem.
Also, what criteria are they using to define bad breath? Are they using a Haliometer or the subjective view of a dentist?