On 21 August 2017, astronauts from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully completed a joint sea survival training exercise in China.
16 members of the Astronaut Center of China were joined by ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer and Samantha Cristoforetti in the first Chinese astronaut training exercise to include foreigners. This was also China’s first sea survival training exercise for astronauts.
Held at Yantai City in Shandong Province, the exercise lasted 17 days, and was organized by the Astronaut Center of China with the help of the Ministry of Transport’s Beihai Rescue Bureau. The purpose of the training was to prepare astronauts for emergency situations, which might involve plummeting a spacecraft into the sea and waiting to be rescued.
The exercise involved a mock capsule of a Shenzhou spacecraft, China’s launch vehicle for manned missions. According to ESA, the astronauts were placed in the Shenzhou capsule, which was then released into the sea. Following that, they were made to change from pressure suits to buoyancy suits before jumping from the capsule into inflatable boats. Afterwards, standard rescue operations took place with helicopters and rescue ships.
This joint training exercise is a product of an agreement signed between CNSA and ESA in 2015, which outlined some long-term goals including flying ESA astronauts to China’s proposed space station. Last year, Chinese astronaut Ye Guangfu underwent an ESA cave training exercise in Italy as part of the same agreement.