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An out-of-this-world opportunity for future astronauts

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

09:18, May 10, 2012

Edward Buckbee (left) with Wernher von Braun in 1969. Photos Provided to China Daily

He's a rocket scientist who has faced tough questions from veteran journalists from around the world, so he was surprised when a Chinese 7th grader stumped him.

US Space & Rocket Center director Edward Buckbee didn't have an answer for the teenager at Tianjin's Nankai Middle School, who asked, "How can astronauts swallow food in space?"

Buckbee was delighted.

"That's the reason I am always excited to talk with these smart, knowledgeable and enthusiastic young Chinese students, and introduce them to aerospace history and open their vision in the United States," he says.

Buckbee has recruited Chinese students for an international space camp at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, since 2002. More than 600 Chinese students a year have flown across the world to enjoy the camp with youths from all corners of the globe.

In 2011, China's space heroes Yang Liwei (the first Chinese in space ) and Zhai Zhigang (the first Chinese to carry out a space walk) sent their sons to the Huntsvilla camp.

"Just like the US in the 1960s, China, in the recent decade, has made impressive developments in aerospace," Buckbee says.

"I am excited to see the country's determination to explore space."

Buckbee became an early participant of the US' golden age of aerospace.

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