Taikonauts hold ground-space talk with students from Beijing, HK, Macao, sparking patriotism, love for science
Published: Jan 01, 2022 07:15 PM


"Happy New Year!" Three taikonauts in China's orbiting space station sent New Year greetings to student representatives from Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao during a ground-space chat on Saturday, the first day of 2022. 

Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, crew members of the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft who entered the space station Tiangong in October, talked about their lives in orbit and answered students' questions relating to "youths," "dreams" and "hard work." 

The talk began with the crew standing in a line in front of a camera as they sent new year blessings to the audience. "Happy New Year!" they said in an interaction with nearly 600 student representatives from Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao.

Some said the activities inspired young people from the SARs to pursue their dreams of taking part in the aerospace sector and aroused their patriotism to the motherland. 

The call went smoothly with very clear signal transmission.

Zhai shared his experience and views about the country's space mission, saying the manned spaceflight spirit is particularly capable of tackling key problems. 

2022 marks the 30th year of establishment of China's manned space program, which started in 1992 with a three-step strategy.

Answering a question from a student from Macao, Wang said she was proud to be born in the great nation and hoped the Tiangong class will inspire more teenagers to pursue careers in space and plant a seed for them to love science. 

Ye said the crew is working together without any problems and she is confident their mission will be successful. "Although we're in space, far away from the motherland, we are never alone." Hundreds of thousands of people in the field are always ready to provide them with 24-hour support, Ye said. 

Ronny Lau Nga Lok, Vice Chairman of Macao Youth Federation, who attended the event in Macao on Saturday, told the Global Times that many young people from Macao were very excited as the event inspired more young people to pursue their dream for taking part in the space sector. 

As he was involved in civil aviation sector, Lau said he always has the aspiration for the country's aerospace industry. He said significant progress has been made in the sector from early launch of the manned spacecraft to space experiment, to major breakthroughs in technologies related to rendezvous and docking and to this 6-month long trip of Chinese astronauts. All these major steps forward inspire more young students, he said. 

"The year when we successfully launched Shenzhou-1 was the year when Macao returned to the motherland, of which we always feel proud. Hopefully, young people from Macao will contribute more to our country's aerospace growth," Lau said. 

Shanshan, a high school student in Hong Kong who had watched the event online at home, said to the Global Times, "Though the talk was short, it was very touching. I was moved by the great passion and their strive to the country's space career. I'm proud to be a Chinese national." 

The country held numerous activities relating to Hong Kong and Macao in recent months. In December 2021, an Olympic delegation of 29 Team China athletes went to Hong Kong for a three-day visit which was expected to instill hard work spirit and patriotism in the city's young people. 

A delegation of elite Olympians also shared their experience and stories of achievement with local young people in Macao.

After the talk, Shenzhou-13 crew displayed the first ever space art exhibition, displaying paintings by young students in schools from central and western China, including some by students from Xizang and Xinjiang. 

Shenzhou-13 crew has been working and living in China's Tianhe space station core module for 78 days as of Saturday. The astronauts aboard will stay in orbit for six months during the country's longest-ever crewed mission.

More that 150 student representatives participated in the Saturday event in Macao, some of whom was from the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Science with Macau University of Science and Technology.  The lab has been studying the lunar soil sampled brought to Earth by Chang'e-5. 

Hundreds of students participated in the  branch event in Hong Kong at the main building of the University of Hong Kong. And the branch event in Beijing saw the participation of students from Tsinghua University, many with doctoral degrees.