Students get New Year chat with Tiangong astronauts

Three mainland astronauts aboard China's Tiangong space station chatted with youngsters from Hong Kong, Macau and Beijing via video conference on Saturday to mark the start of 2022.

The three – Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu – arrived at the space station in mid-October as part of a six-month mission to continue with its construction.

When asked about her expectations for the New Year, Wang said this was the first time Chinese astronauts – also known as taikonauts – had spent New Year's Eve in space, and she hoped that more young people would join their team and take up "historic batons" in space.

The vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, Zhang Xiang, and Hong Kong's sole delegate to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Tam Yiu-chung, were among those attending the session on campus.

A University of Hong Kong postgraduate student said she had been able to learn more about the lives of the astronauts in space, and how they planned to build a better space station so China could become a strong aerospace nation.

"I feel the exchange brought us students closer to the astronauts, we got to know more about the spirit of aerospace," she said, adding that she wanted to follow in their example and work hard in her research.

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