Namibia: Chinese Astronauts in Namibia

Two of China's astronauts, Chen Dong and Liu Yangare, are in Namibia to promote space science and technology in the country.

Chen spent the most time in space (33 days) between Chinese astronauts, while Liu is China's first female astronaut, and made her first space flight in 2012. Namibia and China signed a cooperation agreement in 2000 which led to the establishment of the Chinese space tracking, telemetry and command station near Swakopmund. This agreement was ratified in 2018.

The centre is one of a few around the globe, and crucial to China's space programme when it comes to earth-space communication and command. In fact, Yang said the Swakopmund station is the first point of command for Chinese spacecraft returning to earth.

According to executive director of the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Alfred van Kent, the astronauts will also visit the Namibia University of Science and Technology on Thursday, where they will promote a programme of space science and technology.

The activities are aimed at creating awareness through promotional programmes amongst Namibian pupils and students, and so enhance communication and cooperation on astronautics between the two nations.

They are also expected to make a courtesy call on president Hage Geingob on Thursday.

In 2010, The Namibian covered the opening of the space science and technology exhibition hall at the tracking, telemetry and command station. This opening was attended by China's first astronaut to do a spacewalk, Liu Boming.

According to China's ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, Chinese astronauts have only made three foreign trips - two of which have been to Namibia. He said his country is also planning their first-ever moon landing next year, and hoped that Namibians would in future join China in space exploration projects.

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