Talking late last year in an interview, NASA’s administrator Bill Nelson stated that the US was in a new space race with China, voicing his fears that Beijing could try “under the guise of scientific research” to dominate the most resource-rich locations of the moon — and perhaps even keep other space agencies out.
China’s recent advancements in space exploration — and its will to compete with the US — have increased the demand for new talent in the country, with Beijing looking for even more scientists to join its space program to help realize its ambitious plans.
For the first time, China is looking to recruit specialists from Hong Kong, who now have the opportunity to join the Chinese space program.
China’s space program has clearly reached new heights in recent years. The biggest achievements include the construction of the Tiangong space station, the completion of its first crew handover in orbit and the Chang’e 4 becoming the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.
“I am very proud of it as… when you look at the history, the space program was actually mostly dominated by America,” said Wong Kam Fai from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in a recent interview with Al Jazeera. “The technology competitions between China and the States have become more active in the sense that there are many areas and space is another thing.”
Now, for the first time, scientists from Hong Kong are eligible. The chosen ones will conduct experiments and work alongside astronauts on the space station. The Hong Kong government reportedly recommended 40 candidates to the Chinese authorities for further screening. Although the selection process is still not completed, anticipation is already building.
Good Education System
“Being an educator,” Wong Kam Fai continued, “I really love to see that the Beijing government is actually paying attention to our students and shows that our education system is actually doing very well. I hope that we can make it to space, walking on the Moon.”
Fong Wai Ting, from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, took part in a space camp as a teenager, where he got to see astronauts in training as well as visiting space exploration facilities. The scientist is now interested to see whether his research in wind turbines can be of any use in the National Space Program.
“It’s just amazing what we can achieve and what we have yet to explore in space,” said Fong Wai Ting. “Currently I’m thinking about whether I can use some of my knowledge and expertise to see what I can contribute.”
Many young people meet the rest of our galaxy at the city’s Space Museum.
“For young people, they will seriously consider if they’re interested in science and the direction of scientific research,” said Lawrence Lee of the Hong Kong Space Museum, hoping like many that some of the aspiring young people who visit the museum will make future astronauts or scientists that contribute to the country’s space program.
Featured image: Screenshot from ‘China’s space programme: Hong Kong scientists eligible to join’ on YouTube. Credit: Al Jazeera