Thanks Phil for starting this discussion and also for the subsequent clarifying posts.
Firstly, it's clear there is no obvious pattern or rota to these crews, save for the fact that the three guys who were in the running for SZ-5 have all flown, so clearly stayed at the 'top of the pile' when the very different SZ-6 and SZ-7 missions were being planned.
This topic is something I've given consideration to over the last few months, so here are some random thoughts (in no particular order) which will hopefully stimulate more debate or discussion:-
-The re-cycling of the SZ-6 crew to back-up SZ-7 was very odd, added to the fact that the Commander was the only rookie. Why? Did he have a higher military rank?
-The Chinese have said that they select a number of crews, and then chose the most suitable crew, as a whole. Does the SZ-7 scenario support this notion? Probably not.
-After 13 years in the taikonaut team, how likely is it that all 14 are still eligible for selection. Could some now be medically disqualified? Yang, Fei and Zhai seem to do quite a lot of media and PR work, both inside and outside China. Are they still active and available for selection. Are they the Chinese Gagarin and Glenn? Is the pool really 9 or 10 active, plus the new group in training
-PLAAF combat pilots have to retire at 50. Is there a limit for taikonauts?
-The second group is only 5 (the two women are probably a special selection) so they must be planning that the original group will dominate the six(?) missions which will service TG-1 to TG-3 (up to 18 seats).
-A two person SZ-9 has been mentioned in some Chinese media. If this happens, then does that undermine the role of the third-seater, unless they are trained for some special role after the docking?
-It is impossible to try to figure out who will fly these missions, however I'll throw in some thoughts. If SZ-9 and SZ-10 take place c6 months apart (say April 2012 and October 2012) then they will probably have two separate pools of crews. Chen Quan would be logical choice to figure somewhere as the back-up commander of the last manned flight. But as we have said, there is no logic in any of this.
-A lot of Chinese mass media suggesting lately that a woman will fly on SZ-9. This seems unlikely to me, however if all goes to plan on SZ-8 and 9, including a woman on SZ-10 seems probable.
-The women are military transport pilots - different background and experience. The fact that they only selected two suggests they may well be being fast-tracked to occupy the third seat on a single propaganda mission. The only thing that mitigates against this theory is that this type of mission could have been flown by one of their much younger female fighter pilots, which was their original plan, but who were ultimately not considered.http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=7058.75
As I said, just a few random thoughts.