Payload specialists from Hong Kong, Macao among candidates selected for China's fourth batch of taikonauts
Published: Jun 11, 2024 05:23 PM
Photo: CCTV News

Photo: CCTV News

Ten candidates, including eight space pilots, as well as two payload specialists respectively from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, have been selected for China's fourth batch of taikonauts, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced on Tuesday. 

This is the first time it has selected payload specialists in Hong Kong and Macao, the CMSA said.

John Lee, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, told a press conference on Tuesday that it marks a glorious moment in Hong Kong's history as it is the first time a local resident has become a payload specialist in the national space program, with the opportunity to travel to space.

Lee added that this embodies three significances: first, the One Country, Two Systems principle allows Hong Kong residents to participate; second, it highlights the country's emphasis on the scientific research and development of Hong Kong; third, it demonstrates the determination and perseverance of Hong Kong youth to achieve their dreams.

Huang Weifen, chief designer behind the China manned space program's taikonaut system, noted that the payload specialists from Hong Kong and Macao have successfully navigated the rigorous selection process, which includes clinical medical examinations, various physiological function tests, endurance selection for adaptation to the aerospace environment, as well as psychological tests. They have met all of the selection criteria, Huang said, China Central Television reported.

These candidates will undergo comprehensive and systematic training at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center. According to Huang, the formation of the taikonaut team, with a focus on both the selection and training processes, has taken into account the preparation for the two significant missions of space station and manned lunar landing, given that China plans to achieve manned lunar landing and scientific exploration before 2030.

With the completion of the training simulator for the manned lunar mission, taikonauts will be able to effectively carry out related training tasks, Huang said.

China has completed four rounds of taikonauts selection. A total of 14 taikonauts from air force pilots were selected in 1998, with an additional seven selected in 2010, including two female taikonauts. In 2020, it completed the selection of the third batch of 18 taikonauts, which included space pilots, flight engineers and payload specialists, while the selection of the fourth batch of Chinese astronaut candidates began in the second half of 2022, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The candidate pool for taikonauts is constantly expanding, and the criteria for taikonauts is continuously being adjusted, and the corresponding selection methods are also being continuously optimized and improved, Huang said.

The CMSA said that China's astronaut selection and training system has become more sophisticated and well-established. As international cooperation in crewed space exploration deepens, foreign astronauts will be invited to participate in the selection and training process, and subsequently carry out missions in China's space station.

Global Times