Chinese and European astronauts take part in a survival course off Yantai, Shandong province, earlier this month. （Photo/China Daily）
Two Europeans became the first foreign astronauts to take part in space-related training in China by completing a 17-day sea survival course.
Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy and Matthias Maurer of Germany, both from the European Space Agency, joined 16 Chinese astronauts in waters off the coastal city of Yantai, Shandong province. The training concluded on Monday.
The course was organized by the China Manned Space Agency in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport's Beihai Rescue Bureau. An astronaut sea survival training base in a suburb of Yantai was put into use shortly before the session.
The Chinese astronauts included Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in the space, and Jing Haipeng, a three-time flyer. The group was divided into six teams during the training, which was designed to improve astronauts' sea survival, decision-making and emergency response capabilities, and to boost their team spirit and collaboration capacity, according to the Chinese agency.
Each team had three members－one commander and two operators. At the beginning of the training, members of a team would put on their space suits and enter into a mock re-entry capsule of a Shenzhou spacecraft, which was carried by a ship and placed on the sea's surface by a crane.
Once in the water, the astronauts would take off their space suits and put on a rubber suit capable of resisting cold and providing extra buoyancy. Then they would get out of the re-entry capsule to board inflatable boats. Next, they would practice rescue procedures with a rescue ship and later repeat the process with a helicopter.
Through the training, the astronauts learned methods and procedures of exiting the re-entry capsule as it floated in the sea; familiarized themselves with sea survival skills and rescue preparations; and strengthened their ability to cooperate with each other and with rescuers, the agency said.