Stamp collectors may have outed first Chinese woman in space

China keeps the identities of its taikonauts a closely guarded secret. But a philatelic cover—postmarked envelope, to those of us who don't collect stamps—may have given away the names of the seven military pilots who are being trained go to space, including the woman who could be China's first female in space. Collect Space says:

"The names of the military pilots selected in 2010 to form China's second group of taikonauts – which have been a closely guarded secret for the last 18 months – appear to have been released [as the result of] a possible philatelic blunder," said Tony Quine, an Isle of Man-based space memorabilia collector and contributing writer for the British Interplanetary Society's "Spaceflight" magazine.

Quine worked together with Russian space industry expert Igor Lissov to confirm the cover's autographs since finding it listed for sale on a German space dealer's website two days ago. The two also elicited the assistance of Chinese space enthusiasts to verify the signatures' translation.

The stamped envelope was postmarked in China on May 10, 2010, the same day that the country's space program reportedly appointed the candidates to its astronaut corps.

While China earlier confirmed that it had indeed selected seven pilots – including two women – for its human space flight program, the nation has yet to release the names of its latest trainees. The seven names listed on the cover include five men – Zhang Hu, Chen Dong, Cai Xuzhe, Tang Hongbo and Yi Guangfu – and two women, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping.

Thanks to Collect Space for Submitterating this.