A deputy chief commander of China's manned space project who headed a visiting manned space delegation gave some clues on when Hong Kong could have its first astronaut as he briefed the media in the city on Friday.
Local reporters looking anxiously for clues put forward the question on when the city could have its first astronaut shortly after the beginning of the Q&A session, and pressed on later when they did not get a response on the point.
"There are some procedures and requirements in the selection of astronauts. But I believe that one day, by which I mean some day in the near future, Hong Kong will have its astronaut in space on our own spacecraft," said Zhang Jianqi, deputy commander of China's manned space mission and head of the Shenzhou VII mission delegation.
"Now you should train in terms of body, mind and skills," he said.
Zhang said there has been cooperation between the manned space mission center in Beijing and the Chinese University of Hong Kong on certain projects.
There are space for further cooperation with the acclaimed universities in Hong Kong, with the expected expansion of researches carried by China's manned space mission, he said.
The manned space mission center has launched a website to facilitate communications with those who are interested in putting research projects on spacecraft, he said.
Zhang said the recently completed Shenzhou VII mission was the first launching planned for the second phase of China's manned space mission strategy.
The visiting delegation, including Zhai Zhigang, who completed China's first space walk, has been at the center of attention since they arrived here on Friday.
"People in Hong Kong are proud of the success," said Betty Fung, director of information services of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, in opening remarks at the delegation's media briefing session.
During their four-day visit to the city, Zhai and two other astronauts are expected to meet with local residents in get- togethers and attend a university forum.
Zhang also said China will have its first woman astronaut in the future phases of the strategy that are expected to involve more laboratory works.