The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) warmly welcomed nine members of the China Manned Space delegation, who visited the University today and engaged in lively exchanges and discussions with about 400 faculty and students on topics related to space exploration.
The distinguished guests who attended the exchange event today included Michelle LI Mei-Sheung, Permanent Secretary for Education of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSAR); WU Cheng, Deputy Director of the Department of Educational, Scientific and Technological Affairs at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR; Prof. WONG Yuk-Shan, Chairman of the Research Grants Council; Philip TSAI Wing-Chung, Convener of the General Affairs and Management Sub-Committee of the University Grants Committee; Prof. Harry SHUM Heung-Yeung, HKUST Council Chairman; Prof. Nancy IP, HKUST President; and other senior members of the University management.
The delegation to HKUST was led by DONG Nengli, Deputy Chief Designer of the China Manned Space program, who delivered a speech on behalf of the delegation. Other delegates including ZHONG Hongen, Director of the System Integration Department at the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Deputy Chief Designer of the Space Utilization System of the China Manned Space Program; ZHANG Lu, Astronaut at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center as well as Astronaut and Crew Member of Shenzhou 15; and GAN Keli, Researcher at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's Eighth Academy and Deputy Chief Commander of the Space Station System, presented separately on topics related to China's manned spaceflight program and its applications in space science, astronauts' patriotism, life in space, as well as the creative innovations of China's space station. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.
WANG Yaping, the first Chinese female astronaut to stay on a space station and perform extravehicular activities and Crew Member of Shenzhou 13, was also present. Zhang Lu, hailed as the "Calligraphy Master of the Tiangong station," shared his experience of practicing calligraphy during his half-year space mission and presented HKUST with a personally written couplet in calligraphy.
Prof. Shum in his welcome speech, expressed gratitude for the arrangements by the national and HKSAR governments, which provided the opportunity for HKUST faculty and students to have direct exchanges with astronauts. He stated, "From the launch of the 'Long March 1' rocket in 1970 to China's achievement of manned space flight in 2003, China's space development showcases the country's strength in space technology to the world. The country inaugural selection of payload experts in Hong Kong last year serves as a testament to the country’s profound regard for and acknowledgement of Hong Kong's scientific and technological community, as well as the recognition of Hong Kong as an international innovation and technology center."
Following the welcoming remarks by Prof. Shum and Prof. Ip, they, along with four HKUST faculty and student representatives, engaged in a dialogue with delegation members Zhong Hongen, Zhang Lu, and Gan Keli under the moderation of HKUST Provost Prof. GUO Yike, discussing the development of national and HKUST's aerospace technology. Prof. IP expressed gratitude for the sincere exchange between astronauts and HKUST faculty and students, allowing them to gain firsthand knowledge of the latest developments in China's aerospace technology. She stated, "We are proud of the remarkable achievements our country’s aerospace industry has accomplished over the past few decades. This success is attributed to the nation's emphasis on and support for aerospace technology, as well as the dedication and perseverance of generations of astronauts and space professionals.”
“Aerospace engineering is a key area of development at HKUST, where we drive cutting-edge research in areas such as aerodynamics, aerospace materials, and aircraft structures. We cultivate innovative talents who actively participate in and contribute to our nation's space exploration endeavors. In August this year, our university successfully launched Hong Kong’s first high-resolution optical satellite in the higher education sector. With the use of satellite remote sensing data, we aim to establish an environmental monitoring and disaster forecasting system that will make a valuable contribution to disaster management, environmental monitoring, and the promotion of carbon neutrality in Hong Kong, the country and globally. Moving forward, HKUST will continue to leverage its strengths to contribute to the field of national aerospace,” Prof Ip added.
Two professors participated in the discussion session: Prof. SU Hui, an outstanding scientist leading the HKUST-FYBB#1 project as well as a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Asso Prof. YU Hongyu from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. They discussed with the delegates how HKUST can contribute to national space missions. Prof. Su mentioned that HKUST is developing a payload capable of monitoring carbon dioxide emissions at an internationally advanced level to support the national strategic goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. She also inquired about the feasibility of installing the related carbon monitoring payload on the Chinese space station. Prof. Yu emphasized that HKUST has world-leading research achievements in areas such as artificial intelligence, biology, and mechanics that are applicable to the aerospace field, and that the faculty and students at HKUST are eager to participate in national space exploration projects.
During the Q&A session, XU Weifan, a doctoral student from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and FONG Wai-Ting, a master's student from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, asked the delegates about their experiences inside and outside the space capsule and how local graduates can contribute to the development of the national space industry.
Prof. Shum concluded the discussion session by saying, "As an internationalized research-oriented university, we attract talents from all over the world. With the support of the motherland, we will continue to work hard, leverage our strengths, encourage aspiring young people to join the aerospace industry, create opportunities for them, and help them realize their dreams and contribute to the nation and society."
About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (https://hkust.edu.hk/ ) is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. Over 80% of our research work were rated “Internationally excellent” or “world leading” in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. We were ranked 2nd in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2023, and our graduates were ranked 29th worldwide and among the best from universities from Asia in Global Employability University Ranking 2023. As of September 2023, HKUST members have founded 1,747 active start-ups, including 9 Unicorns and 13 exits (IPO or M&A), generating economic impact worth over HK$ 400 billion. InvestHK cited QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 to demonstrate the performance of five world’s top 100 local universities in several innovation-centric areas, among which HKUST ranked top in four engineering and materials science subjects.