Hong Kong students raise their hands to ask leading Chinese aerospace experts in Beijing questions during a seminar held via video link in Hong Kong, Sept 3, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Hong Kong scholars, educators and space enthusiasts say they believe that the live conversation between Hong Kong students and taikonauts on Friday will ignite local young people’s passion for science and bring more new blood into the aerospace industry.
In a live video call, three taikonauts — Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, who are in low-Earth orbit on board China’s Tiangong space station — chatted on Friday with about 200 Hong Kong students of different ages, plus city scientists and teachers, and answered students’ questions. Several aerospace experts in Beijing also shared their insights and experience with Hong Kong young people via another live call in the same event.
At least a growing number of educators and students (in Hong Kong) will pay more attention to the area, and more local young people would like to engage in relevant scientific research programs
director of the Institute of Space and Earth Information Science of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
After attending the event on Friday, Kwan Mei-po, director of the Institute of Space and Earth Information Science of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said she was delighted to see that the country holds such events to encourage and support Hong Kong young people who want to engage in aerospace scientific research and projects.
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Kwan said that Hong Kong previously didn’t have many teachers or experts specializing in aerospace, and people always feel a sense of distance of outer space and relevant subjects. She said she expects the recent series of exchange activities will bring some changes to the city.
“At least a growing number of educators and students (in Hong Kong) will pay more attention to the area, and more local young people would like to engage in relevant scientific research programs,” Kwan said.
The rare live call from space came after a days-long visit to Hong Kong by the nation’s top aerospace scientists at the end of June, stoking passion in the city for the aerospace and technology fields.
Noting youngsters’ active participation in these exchange activities, Kwan highlighted the importance of stimulating Hong Kong primary and secondary school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
She stressed that adding more new blood is necessary and crucial for the city’s further development, especially as Hong Kong has set a goal to develop into a global innovation and technology hub.
She added that CUHK’s Institute of Space and Earth Information Science always welcomes visits by young people.
Scientia Secondary School Principal Wong Ching-yung said the live talk with taikonauts is expected to boost Hong Kong young people’s national pride, as they are proud to see that the nation has the ability to send astronauts into outer space and establish its own space station, showcasing China’s strength in aerospace.
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The Tiangong space station is the second of two current space stations operating in near-Earth orbit, following the International Space Station, which has been operated mainly by Western countries, led by the United States and Russia, for more than two decades.
Wong expressed hope that more taikonauts will visit Hong Kong and have face-to-face talks with students after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter Lui Kin-chuen, president of the Hong Kong Aerospace Society, told China Daily on Friday that the event provided a splendid opportunity for Hong Kong students to see how the taikonauts live in the space station and to learn what they can see in space.
“This could largely satisfy students’ curiosity about space, and could stimulate their interest in aerospace, science and relevant subjects,” Lui said.
Lui said he believes that the talk between taikonauts and Hong Kong students will motivate more people to join the aerospace industry. The talk will draw them a big picture of the industry and the career path, encouraging them to boldly pursue their dreams, Lui said.
Lui said that the visit of Yang Liwei, who became China’s first astronaut to enter outer space in 2003, has inspired some Hong Kong young people to set sights on the area.
He said he thinks the talk and the national top aerospace scientists’ visit to Hong Kong in June will bring a new round of space fever to the city.
Lui said he hopes Hong Kong will have more such exchange activities, even building its own space museum, to render young people more opportunities and easier access to knowledge about the universe, aerospace technology and the nation’s space programs.
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