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Chinese Astronauts Inspire Namibian Youth To ‘Tangle with the Stars’

Aug. 23, 2019 (EIRNS)—China’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang, and its record-holder for longest stay in space, Chen Dong, spoke to Namibian middle school and university students during their five-day visit to Namibia this week, with the message that “they must dream big, to be Namibia’s first astronaut,” as Chen told Xinhua TV.

When the “Chinese Astronauts Landed at Namibia’s University of Science and Technology” (as the Namibia University of Science and Technology headlined its report), scores of students from both the NUST and the University of Namibia came to hear about Liu and Chen’s experiences, and to discuss the benefits of going into space and Namibia’s role in China’s space missions.

A computer science senior excitedly told Xinhua afterwards, “I believe Namibia should not be left behind, and hopefully one day we can ‘tangle with the stars,’ when we have our very own home-made astronaut.” A young woman said Liu “has inspired me. One never knows, maybe one day I will be in her shoes.” Another student said afterwards, “it might not be long before we have our very own Namibian astronauts explore space.”

Namibia has played an important role in China’s space program. After the two nations signed an agreement to collaborate in space technology in 2000, China built its first tracking station in the Southern Hemisphere. That China Telemetry, Tracking and Command Station at Swakopmund is used to monitor Chinese manned space vehicles. On this visit, the astronauts met with middle school students at the Space TT&C Station. “When I was staying in [China’s experimental space lab] Tiangong-1, I flew over Namibia many times. I know there is a Space TT&C Station based here, and I come here with gratitude,” Liu told her hosts.

President Hage Geingob had invited Chinese astronauts to visit when he went to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center during his state visit to China last year. Meeting the President at the end of their trip, the two astronauts invited Namibia to participate in joint space missions with China in the future.

“With the kind of support we received from Namibia, we have established an important space tracking station in Swakopmund,” which is a starting point for our aerospace cooperation, Liu told President Geingob. “In 2022 China will build our own space station, which will be a platform for all the nations to use. We look forward to Namibia’s participation and hope to fly together with Namibia to space.”

Geingob replied appreciatively—and asked if there were an age restriction on who could participate in those future space missions.

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