During a news conference, Lin Xiqiang emphasized the support of President Xi Jinping and the central government for the scientific and technological endeavors of Hong Kong and Macao. This support is seen as integral to the broader strategy of involving different regions in the nation's ambitious space program.
The delegation comprised astronauts who have been instrumental in constructing the Tiangong space station, such as Liu Boming from Shenzhou XII, Wang Yaping from Shenzhou XIII, Chen Dong from Shenzhou XIV, and Zhang Lu from Shenzhou XV. Their presence in Hong Kong signifies the importance of the SARs in China's space narrative.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, hosting a welcoming banquet for the delegates, expressed pride in the nation's manned space program achievements over the past 30 years. He encouraged Hong Kong's youth to draw inspiration from the perseverance and skills of the astronauts and experts present.
Highlighting the educational and inspirational aspects of space exploration, photographs of the Tiangong space station, captured by the Shenzhou XVI crew using a high-definition camera, were showcased. These images, marking the first time China has obtained full views of its operational space station with Earth in the background, were revealed at the media briefing, underscoring the technological advancements in China's space program.
Lin noted the increasing depth and breadth of participation from the SARs in space development. He referenced the successful experiments designed by Hong Kong's secondary school students carried out during the Shenzhou XI mission and the involvement of experts from Hong Kong and Macao in significant projects like the manned lunar rover.
Importantly, some candidates from Hong Kong and Macao are nearing the final stages of selection as payload specialists, a move that could soon see astronauts from these regions aboard the Tiangong space station. This prospect resonates with the national sentiment of inclusivity in China's space endeavors.
Astronaut Chen Dong, replying to a letter from a Hong Kong middle school student, described the Tiangong space station as "the home of Chinese people in space," open to experts from Hong Kong and Macao. His response reflects the broader goal of fostering a sense of national unity and pride through space exploration.
Wang Yaping, noted for being the nation's first female astronaut to conduct a spacewalk, shared her interactions with students, including one from Hong Kong who inquired about water recycling in space. Such interactions highlight the role of astronauts in igniting aerospace passion in young minds, with Wang expressing eagerness to welcome students from Hong Kong and Macao to China's aerospace team.
In conclusion, the visit of the CMSA delegation and the accompanying astronauts to Hong Kong not only underscores the SARs' growing role in China's space program but also serves as a conduit for inspiring the next generation of space enthusiasts and professionals in these regions. This visit reinforces the national agenda of scientific advancement and fosters a sense of collective achievement in space exploration.
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