SHANDONG, China - Three women will vie for two spots on China's team of oceanauts that will serve in the deep-diving submersible Jiaolong, the China National Deep Sea Center announced on Thursday.
The women are among 10 candidates for six positions on the submersible. The final team will be unveiled in mid-November.
A year after sending the first Chinese woman into space, the nation is looking to send its first women into the depths of the ocean. China currently has two trained oceanauts.
Liu Baohua, leader of the oceanaut selection team, said lifting the men-only restriction will help develop the nation's undersea exploration efforts.
"Jiaolong is going to undertake more deep-sea diving programs every year. The new oceanauts will play an important role in guaranteeing the future operation of Jiaolong," Liu said.
Liu also added that women are "more cautious than men, which may help them drive and operate the submersible more accurately" and that women are also better in communicating with others.
The 10 candidates, who are all in their 20s, will undergo medical and mental tests for nearly two weeks. The final six will then undergo 119 examinations that includes testing their knowledge of mechanical engineering and the ocean, according to the centre.
Six days ago, more than 130 candidates were chosen after the first round of testing. The candidates underwent a number of physical tests, including an 800-meter run for women and a 1,000-meter run for men, as well as psychological tests. There were four more rounds of rigorous examinations that whittled down the number of candidates to 10. The names of the final 10 have not been released.