Earth-space chat with taikonauts inspires HK youth's national pride
Published: Sep 03, 2021 02:15 PM
Hong Kong youth wave to three taikonauts on board the Tianhe space station core cabin during an Earth-space talk on Friday.Photo: cnsphoto

Hong Kong youth wave to three taikonauts on board the Tianhe space station core cabin during an Earth-space talk on Friday.Photo: cnsphoto


Practicing Tai Chi, drinking Kung Fu Tea, making yoghurt… Taikonauts on board China's Tianhe space station core cabin delivered a special virtual tour to nearly 300 youths from Hong Kong via an Earth-space video call on Friday, introducing their daily life and work as well as experiments they have conducted in space, drawing rounds of cheers and awes from a thrilled audience.

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said at the event that the scientists' patriotic spirit and selfless dedication to China's aerospace development are worth respect, the young generations in Hong Kong should learn from it, and everyone should be proud of the progress of their own country and identity as a Chinese. 

She called upon local talents to contribute their unique strengths in the country's effort to become a strong world power in the science and technology sectors, and continue to build Hong Kong into an innovation hub with global influences.

Asked about when Hong Kong scientists could be included in the taikonaut pool, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, said at the event that they will be brought to the station as soon as possible once its building is completed and operations start. 

During the video call, the taikonauts showed the audience how they work, eat, sleep, and exercise in space as they gave a virtual tour around the cabin, impressing many both at the event and watching it livestreaming online.

One of the most impressive moments was when taikonaut Nie Haisheng practiced Tai Chi at the workout section in the cabin, after he flipped upside down on the space bicycle and rode it with his hands, to strengthen his upper body muscles.

The audience at the event also talked with Yang Liwei, China's very first taikonaut who visited space in 2003, via video link, with aerospace experts in Beijing. Yang said that he had been to Hong Kong several times, and each time he went there, local residents would ask him about the cool things he did while in space.

"The coolest thing I did was unfold the Chinese national flag on behalf of all Chinese with space dreams," Yang replied, "and I hope to see more of you on board our space station in the future," he said while smiling at the audience.

"It is such a rare chance to learn about the latest discovery and progress of China's space station from the taikonauts themselves, and I think we should all learn from their perseverance through hardships and devotion to our country," Leung Suk-yu, executive director of the Hong Kong Family and Youth Development Wellness Centre, told the Global Times on Friday.

"High technologies in China were rarely presented in Hong Kong SAR in the past, and local teenagers who have always had great interest in technology know a lot about other countries' aerospace achievements, but little of our own," Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based space analyst and TV commentator, told the Global Times.

"That's why such events are crucial to help them learn about our country's progress, which will serve as another way to carry out patriotic education and raise national defense awareness in local residents, and also boost their sense of identity and national pride," Song said.

The smooth ground-space phone talk also impressed the audience. The unimpeded communication is powered by a "space network" composed of three homegrown Tianlian satellites, with a downlink rate at the station equivalent to 5G speeds on the ground, and the time delay is merely within 1 second.