August 24, 2019
African nations should develop active space programs, if for no other reason than; space exploration stimulates the human mind. It is natural for our uniquely human creative imagination to be excited about mankind exploring the solar system, and the galaxies, to discover new laws of the universe. This is what humanity does when we are optimistically looking up at the stars, and not pessimistically starring down at the mud below our feet.
Chinese astronaut Liu Yang told President Hage Geingob on Thursday that her government is looking forward to Namibia’s participation in future space missions with China.
Speaking at State House during a courtesy meeting, Liu said China will build its space station in 2022, which will be a platform for all the other countries to cooperate with each other.
“Win-win cooperation and mutual benefits is what we want to do,” she said. The 41-year-old Liu was China’s first female astronaut among a three-member crew aboard the Shenzhou-IX spacecraft that flew into space in 2012. Also speaking at the meeting was Liu’s male colleague, 41-year-old Chen Dong, who is the record holder for the longest stay in space among all Chinese astronauts.
In 2016, Cheng and his crew flew the Shenzhou-XI spacecraft into space and docked successfully with the Tiangong-II Space Laboratory.
During his 33 days in space, Chen conducted several scientific experiments, including the first space interview, the first space jog and the first vegetable planting in China’s space history.
Cheng concurred with Liu, saying in the future his wish is to fly in space with a Namibia astronaut. “We are very much looking forward to that dream to become true,” he noted. Replying to the astronauts’ call, Geingob jokingly asked if there’s an age restriction for the China-Namibia space venture. He further thanked the astronauts for taking time to visit Namibia and inspire the local youth.
“The most important thing is we can share the space experience. Those [of us] who are unfortunate and can not afford to launch a spacecraft, for a friendly country to share that with us is already enough,” Going said.
Earlier the same day, the astronauts, along with their delegation, which included the Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, paid a visit to the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). Attending the gathering were students from NUST, University of Namibia and pupils who were given the opportunity to ask questions and gain information from the astronauts.
Chinese Astronauts Inspire Namibian Youth
When the “Chinese Astronauts Landed at Namibia’s University of Science and Technology” 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 to 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, “who knows, 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.
“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.”