Space technology fever heated up on Sunday as the Shenzhou IX astronauts disclosed moredetails of June's manned space docking to a group of university students. Some 500 students from different colleges in the city filled an auditorium at the ChineseUniversity of Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon for a face-to-face meeting with the threeastronauts, Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang.
The astronauts answered questions about complicated rendezvous, docking technologies andspace life. In a surprise twist, students were also tested by the astronauts.
Veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng suddenly asked: "How did we bring fruit to space?"
A young man tried to answer but failed. Then Jing explained that all the fruit that is brought issliced into pieces and dried using a special technique. Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, also told thestudents about the three phases of China's manned space program. He said that one morespace laboratory, a manned spacecraft and cargo spacecraft will be launched.
By 2020,China's first near-earth manned space station will be established and become operational. Responding to a question raised by a student from the Hong Kong University of Science andTechnology about when China will send astronauts to the moon and maybe even Mars, Zhouanswered that he believes it "won't take too long" to realize the Chinese people's old dream offlying to the moon. He pointed out that reaching Mars still requires a series of technologicalbreakthroughs.
Earlier, the three astronauts started the third day of their Hong Kong trip at the Peak in themorning to overlook the city's iconic harbor view. Subsequently, they attended the openingceremony of an exhibition on China's first manned space docking mission at the Hong KongScience Museum.
The 15day exhibition presents a number of items to give visitors a better picture of themanned rendezvous and docking mission between Tiangong-1 space station and Shenzhou IXspacecraft that was successfully completed in June. The exhibits include the re-entry capsule of Shenzhou IX, which was used by the threeastronauts to return to earth.
At the exhibition, visitors can get a real look at how the three astronauts lived. A four-minutevideo recorded the trio eating and drinking, conducting medical experiments, as well asexercising with a riding cycle ergometer and pulley machine. A total of 100 photos will also be exhibited as well as the traditional Chinese knot made by LiuYang and her spacesuit.
The trio arrived in Hong Kong on Friday for a four-day goodwill tour. On Saturday, they talkedabout their years of hard astronaut training experiences with 1,400 local primary andsecondary students. The astronauts also revealed their versatility at a welcome gala show heldby the Hong Kong government on Saturday afternoon.
China daily Com * News * Space
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