Rocket launch fuels youth space exploration dreams

(Xinhua) 10:19, April 28, 2024

LANZHOU, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Ma Yingbo, 12, had been a space enthusiast for several years, before finally achieving something rare among his peers -- attending a real rocket launch on-site.

Ma is a sixth-grade primary school student from Jishishan, a county in northwest China's Gansu Province, which was struck by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake last December.

Observing the launch of the Shenzhou-18 manned spaceship on Thursday night was part of a space-themed scientific education excursion at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, which was organized by the National Work Committee of the Chinese Young Pioneers.

Pupils from Gansu, Sichuan, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Beijing attending the five-day event also got to participate in space science courses, and had the opportunity to communicate face-to-face with taikonauts.

Ma traveled by both bus and train and his journey had lasted more than 24 hours before he finally arrived at the launch center. Once there, he actively participated in space science courses.

Ma offered Xinhua a glimpse of his learning journal, in which he wrote down his feelings about rockets and the rocket launch. He sees rockets as bridges connecting Earth and space, thereby making ancient myths more accessible and tangible.

On the day of the rocket launch, Ma and his peers watched from a safe distance a few kilometers from the rocket. Their awe was evident as the rocket lifted off the launch pad and soared into the sky.

"When I grow up, I want to be a taikonaut, too. I will explore the vast universe just like them," Ma wrote in his diary.

The new achievements of China's space missions have ignited enthusiasm among Chinese youth, encouraging them to pursue their scientific dreams.

Xie Zhuohang, a fifth-grader from Sichuan's Mianyang, said he was happy to be part of the trip to the Jiuquan launch site and that he had learned a lot about space missions during this excursion.

Two years previously, Xie had participated in a local programming competition and made a model of a Long March series carrier rocket. "Making a simple rocket model took me one week, so just imagine the effort needed to build a real one," he said.

Now, having watched astronauts embarking on a space mission on-site, his dream of flying higher and further has been greatly boosted.

"This launch base is exactly as I had imagined, surrounded by the vast Gobi Desert and dry air. Working here is such a cool thing," he said.

Most of the primary school students who participated in this activity became interested in aerospace by watching science experiments that were live-streamed from China's space station.

"I remember the lecture given by Wang Yaping on TV, through which I learned about laws of physics and the weightless condition," said Zhang Zinuo, a 10-year-old girl from Shaanxi.

She revealed that she now felt more connected and impressed by the passion the taikonauts have for their dreams and the space cause.

"The spaceship and the taikonauts used to be so far away from me, but now they are only several miles away," she said. Zhang is already planning on joining the science club at her school.

Science education has always been one of the important goals of China's space missions.

According to the National Work Committee of the Chinese Young Pioneers, more than 700 young students and teachers have been invited to either the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region or the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan Province since 2023, giving them the opportunity to participate in space-themed programs.

Lei Jia, a staff member of the branch of the Chinese Young Pioneers of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said that this new experience will help children to develop a taste for science education and promote their scientific spirit.

"Perhaps, future aerospace industry stars are already among them," she said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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