Selection of space specialists in HK, Macao reflects central government’s faith in ramping up local talent growth: legislators
Published: Oct 03, 2022 08:33 PM Updated: Oct 04, 2022 10:24 PM
Launch history of manned missions to space by Long March-2F carrier rockets

Launch history of manned missions to space by Long March-2F carrier rockets

The selection of aerospace experts from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions is of great significance, which not only reflects the recognition and support of the central government to the scientific research capability in Hong Kong and Macao, but also shows the faith and care for young people in the two regions, legislators and experts from Hong Kong and Macao said on Monday, noting that younger generations will seize the opportunity to realize their space dream and better integrate into the country's future development.

China launched a selection program of the fourth round of prospective astronauts to meet the needs of subsequent missions as part of the country's manned space program, the China Manned Space announced on Sunday. The selection includes 12 -14 reserve astronauts, and two or more candidates to become payload specialists. This is the first time that the country is considering candidates from the two SARs. 

As an important bridge of scientific, technological and cultural exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, the achievements of China's space development have left a deep impression on many people in the two regions, and planted the seeds of space exploration in their hearts, experts said. For a long time, China's space industry has also provided a platform for many research and academic institutions in Hong Kong and Macao to go into space.

According to the classification of astronaut tasks, payload specialists are scientific researchers who carry out scientific and applied research and other experimental work at the space station. The Hong Kong and Macao SAR governments announced the basic criteria for the selection of payload specialists on Sunday and Monday, respectively. In both places, candidates are required to obtain doctoral degrees in biology, medicine, physics, mechanical engineering, electronic engineering or astronomy, have a good command of both Chinese and English, can speak fluent Putonghua, love the country, support "one country, two systems" principle, and support the manned space program.

"This is heartening news of historic significance," John Lee Ka-chiu, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, said on Sunday. "This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On this occasion, when Hong Kong residents celebrate the National Day holidays, the country is delighted to extend this gift to the Hong Kong SAR, which fully demonstrates the central government's love, support and trust for Hong Kong".

Legislator Nixie Lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Monday that Hong Kong has been actively involved in the development of national space efforts. For example, scientists from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have participated in the lunar probe and Mars exploration projects. 

"With the continuous development of the country's space-related technologies, more young Hong Kong students now aspire to engage in the space industry and look forward to contributing to the development of the national space industry in the future," Lam said. 

At present, there are three universities in Hong Kong offering undergraduate and master's programs to train aerospace talent, with no less than 100 graduates each year focusing on aerospace technology development. Macau University of Science and Technology also runs the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, the only state key laboratory in the field of astronomy and planetary sciences in China.

Fellow member Gary Wong Chi-him, who is also on the board of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Monday that colleges and universities in Hong Kong and Macao have set up specialist courses over the recent years. This selection of payload specialists by the central government in Hong Kong and Macao SARs is a great gift to young people in the two regions.

"Many young people around me are very excited about this project. Some of them have already started working toward the selection criteria, hoping to stand out and realize their space dreams," Wong said. 

The Civil Aviation Authority, Education and Youth Development Bureau and Health Bureau under the Macao SAR Government jointly held a press conference on Monday, announcing that the central government decided to select one payload specialist from Macao to undertake scientific research work such as conducting in-orbit experiments in addition to operating experimental equipment.

Chan Weng Hong, President of the Civil Aviation Authority of Macao SAR, said that the selection of candidates for payload specialist in Macao fully reflects the country's care and support for Macao. The selection will be conducted across three stages -- primary election, review and final race. The Macao SAR government is completing registration work from Monday to October 17.

A student from Macao told the Global Times that she was surprised and pleased to hear this news as she had taken an interest in the country's space program since childhood. "I have long been thinking that space is a very distant thing and has never thought one day myself could have the opportunity to achieve space dream," she said.

Some college students in Macao also said they hoped that in the near future there could be more scientists, space pilots and flight engineers from Macao to get involved in national space development. 

Legislators from Hong Kong and Macao believe that the selection program would encourage more young people in the two regions to participate more actively in the national construction and contribute to the overall development of the country.

Kou Kam Fai, a member of the seventh Legislative Assembly of the Macao SAR, told the Global Times that China has been developing manned space engineering for 30 years and each great achievement so far has deepened people's sense of pride in Macao. 

"Chinese taikonauts have visited Macao many times and conducted warm exchanges with local students, which greatly stimulated their strong passion for exploring the space sector."

It is a great opportunity for students in Macao to get a closer look at the country's manned space achievements, to strengthen their national consciousness and make their contributions to the country's overall development, Kou said. 

Lam added that the central government has always been concerned about the development of Hong Kong's youth, and has been trying to open up more channels to enable young people to seize the development opportunities of the country and help them integrate into the overall development of the country. The selection of payload specialists fully demonstrates the central government's deep faith in Hong Kong's youth.