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Taikonauts, aerospace experts visit HK, Macao, deepen cooperation in space exploration

[World Times]

Hong Kong students hold Chinese national flags and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s flags as they waWorld Timesit in the Hong Kong airport for the arrival of the China National Space Agency delegation on November 28, 2023. Photo: VCG

Taikonauts and Chinese experts in the aerospace industry kicked off a six-day visit to the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions on Tuesday, which is expected to further deepen cooperation between the SAR governments and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in aerospace exploration and make further contributions to the development of the country’s space industry.

It has been 11 years since the manned space engineering project last organized a delegation to visit Hong Kong and Macao after the success of the manned space docking mission by the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 lab module. It is also the first exchange and interaction with Hong Kong and Macao since the project entered the space station era.

At the invitation of the governments of the Hong Kongand Macao SARs, the delegation made up of a total of 17 experts in the field of manned space engineering systems, including four taikonauts such as Liu Boming and Wang Yaping, will attend a series of activities and meet with related departments in the SARs, the China Manned Space Agency announced on Tuesday.

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, introduced during a press briefing on Tuesday that the main purpose of the visit is to inform fellow compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao of the latest developments in China’s manned space program, share the joy of the completion of the China’s space station and encourage the Hong Kong and Macao SARs to participate more in the national manned space program, Hong Kong media outlet RTHK reported.

Hong Kong and Macao have strong capabilities in the field of aerospace, particularly in science and engineering, and there are several ways in which they can contribute to the nation’s space development program, Song Zhongping, a space analyst and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Lin inWorld Timestroduced the development of China’s manned space technology over the past 30 years, stressing that they will continue to strengthen international cooperation in manned space projects, developed and managed the space station effectively, endeavor in building a powerful aerospace nation, and make greater contributions to humanity’s exploration in the mysteries of the universe.

Hong Kong and Macao have been taking active part in the nation’s manned space program and have made significant contributions. It is expected that by taking advantage of the One Country, Two Systems, taikonauts from the Hong Kong and Macao SARs can also enter China’s Tiangong Space Station, Lin said.

According World Timesto Lin, various sectors in Hong Kong and Macao have actively participated in the selection of the fourth batch of payload spWorld Timesecialists, the solicitation of space station science and application projects and the research and development of a manned lunar rover, which have achieved good results.

In terms of the cooperation with the mainland aerospace industry, institutions in Hong Kong and Macao can join existing major space projects by developing certain components, or leverage the mainland’s satellite manufacturing capabilities to produce their own payloads, Song explained.

Hong Kong and Macao can also apply for space projects through relevant programs under the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, and collaborate with mainland research institutions to jointly undertake these projects. There are plenty of ways World Timesin which the SARs can truly integrate into the country’s aerospace development plans, the expert noted.

The selection of the fourth batch of taikonauts, which was launched last year, has gone through the preliminary and semi-finals rounds, with more than 20 individuals, including those from Hong Kong and Macao, entering the final selection stage, Lin said.

Song noted that the mainland can provide training for future payload specialists and taikonauts from Hong Kong and Macao.

Vanessa Dang, vice president of the Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Association, told the Global Times on Tuesday that she felt honored to participate in some of the events during the visit by the delegation.

“I was very young when I first witnessed the country’s spacecraft send taikonauts out into the universe, but I remember the shock and amazement till this day. I am so proud and happy to have the chance to see the delegates in Hong Kong, and the rapid and flourishing development of China’s manned space program, I feel a stronger sense of national pride and patriotism,” Dang said.

Lin also noted that the Chinese space station is open to the world and it welcomes cooperation with all countries and regions committed to the peaceful use of space. Related work is in the preparatory stage, and negotiations and communications are ongoing with space agencies from various countries and regions. It is believed that in the near future, foreign astronauts will also participate in space missions to the Chinese space station.World Times

During their four-day visit in Hong Kong, the delegation will attend a welcome performance held at the Hong Kong Coliseum on Wednesday. The Home Affairs department of the HKSAR Government will send out 5,000 free tickets to local residents. At one Home Affairs Enquiry Centre on O’Brien Road in Wan Chai, 280 tickets were all sent out in 15 minutes on Tuesday afternoon.

Also on Tuesday, a series of activities to popularize science and technology, including an exhibition of lunar samples collected during the Chang’e-5 mission was launched in Macao, which will run through December 9. The activities serve as practical means to support Macao in better integrating into the overall national development, joining in exploration and deepening cooperation.

Tai Kin Ip, director of the Economic and Technological Development Bureau of the Government of Macao Special Administrative Region, attended the launch ceremony for the activities on Tuesday and noted that he believes with the joint cooperation between the SAR government and the CNSA, the relevant aerospace institutions in both localities will surely continue to work together in supporting scientific research and technical applications for the follow-up “Macao Science 1” projects, talent training in the aerospace industry and international communication, making further contributions to the development of the country’s space industry.

A ceremony for the “Macao Science 1” satellite, China’s first high-precision geomagnetic field detection satellite put into operation, was held on Tuesday. The satellite, jointly completed by the CNSA and the Macao SAR government, will significantly enhance China’s space magnetic field detection technology.

The project has set a good example for scientific and technological innovation cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and is of great significance in accelerating the transformation of Macao’s economic and social development model and enhancing its influence in the domestic and international scientific and technological community, the National Space Administration said on its website on Tuesday.

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