CAIRO– Three Chinese astronauts, or taikonauts, talked from space with the youth from eight African countries on Tuesday via video link, sharing their experience in the Shenzhou-14 mission.

The taikonauts — Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, who are on a six-month stay in orbit, shared with the African youth their life and scientific work in the space station. The main venue of the event, titled “Talk with Taikonauts,” was held at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, while students from Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa joined the dialogue at sub-venues. 

Emily Nangacovie, a science student from Namibia, had an opportunity to ask questions as to what research they have conducted in their mission.

In response, Cai said that they have been “focusing on studying the impact of long-term exposure to zero-gravity on astronauts’ health and corresponding protection measures, looking at astronauts’ behaviour and capabilities and delving into the application of traditional medicine in space.” 

“And we also do experiments on variable gravity science, life and ecology science, biotechnology science, physics of fluids and combustion science,” Cai added. 

“These experimental research projects will provide support for astronauts to live a healthy life and work with a high efficiency in the space station and lay the groundwork for future exploration into deep space,” he explained.

Chen, another taikonaut, said they will “carry out extravehicular activities, on-orbit equipment maintenance, space application experiments, space medical experiments, and on-station lectures, among other tasks.” 

Yang Jun, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Namibia, said China will help train Namibian technicians on space technology and will conduct space research jointly with Namibia.  

Last year three Chinese taikonauts on a Shenzhou-12 spaceship carried a Namibian national flag into space, while two taikonauts, Cheng and Liu, visited Namibia in 2019. 

“We can see how fruitful China-Namibia space cooperation is,” Yang said, adding that the task of developing space technology rests on the shoulders of the youth in the world.

Passant Sayed Khalil, an Egyptian youth who teaches Chinese at Cairo University, asked Liu about how challenging it was for her to become China’s first female astronaut and how she achieved her dream. 

“In fact, in every walk of life, there are outstanding females dedicated to their positions. As long as we cherish our dreams, we will have power.

“As long as we aim high and work hard, we can unleash the potential of our intelligence and realize our dreams,” Liu replied, thanking her family for supporting her in achieving her dream. 

Khalil, who has visited China three times, said she has been inspired by Liu who brings her hope that “women can accomplish a lot of things at the same time.” 

“The talk is actually very impressive,” Khalil told Xinhua. “If we have a goal in our life, we have to do our best and work hard until we reach it.”

The event in Cairo showed presentation videos on China’s development in space and the efforts made by the China Manned Space Agency to achieve the current accomplishments. 

Sherif Mohamed Sedky, CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency, hailed the advancement of China in the field of space and highlighted China’s contribution to Egypt’s progress in the area. 

“We work together in designing and carrying out satellites and we prepare together special labs for testing and assembling satellites. So there is big cooperation between Egypt and China in the space field,” Sedky told Xinhua. 

“Egypt benefits a lot from this cooperation, through the exchange of expertise and the large laboratories that are currently being established in Egypt in light of the Egyptian-Chinese cooperation,” he added, noting that such an event is an inspiring experience for Egyptian youth.

Zhang Tao, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy of China in Egypt, said that the event is not only a cultural exchange activity but also a scientific and technological exchange and experiment between China and Africa. 

“Exploring space is a common dream of mankind. Egypt is an important African country and its youth are looking forward to more opportunities to explore the mysteries of space.

“I think this event will help Egyptian young people to further understand the development of China’s aerospace technology,” Zhang told Xinhua. 

“China is willing to continue to work with Egypt to promote China-Africa space cooperation and make new positive contributions to deepen China-Egypt strategic cooperation,” Zhang said. – Xinhua