Zhai Zhigang, Chinese astronaut. Achievements include being on a shortlist of three candidates to become China's first man in space during the Shenzhou V flight in 2003; accumulated 1000 hours flight time; being on the shortlist of six candidates in the final training for Shenzhou VI mission in October, 2005; first Chinese astronaut to carry out a spacewalk on September 27, 2008 (Shenzhou VII mission).
Zhigang, Zhai was born on October 10, 1966 in Longjiang, Heilongjiang, China.
He enrolled at the People's Liberation Army Air Force Aviation Institute and studied to be a fighter pilot and then as a squadron leader.
During the Shenzhou 7 mission in 2008, he became the first Chinese citizen to carry out a spacewalk. Zhai became a Lieutenant Colonel and pilot trainer in the PLAAF after logging 1000 hours of flying time. In 1996, Zhai was selected to trial for the astronaut program and was selected to be the first group of fourteen in 1998.
Yang Liwei was picked for the flight, with Zhai Zhigang ranked second ahead of Nie Haisheng. Zhai was one of the six astronauts in the final training for Shenzhou 6. The Ta Kung Pao newspaper had reported that Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng were the leading pair, after having been in the final group of three for Shenzhou 5.
However, Zhai had been paired with Wu Jie during training. Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng flew the flight.
He was one of three members of the final group to train for the Shenzhou 5 flight.