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Macao now has an astronaut candidate in China’s space programme

This is the first time that Macao and Hong Kong have local residents participating in China’s space program as payload specialists
  • In total, there are 10 candidates, including 8 space pilots and 2 payload specialists, for the next astronaut cohort in the country’s space programme

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UPDATED: 11 Jun 2024, 3:35 pm

An unnamed payload specialist from Macao has been selected as one of the ten final candidates for the fourth batch of astronauts in China’s space program, marking the first time that a local resident has been chosen for such an undertaking. 

According to a release published today by the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the candidates include 8 space pilots and two payload specialists – one being the local candidate and the other being Hong Kong’s first candidate for the position. 

In response to the milestone, the Macao government issued a statement today to express its gratitude to the central government for “vigorously supporting” the city’s participation in the national space program.

Officials said the selection of a Macao candidate was an “important breakthrough” for the city and believed that “the news would strongly encourage the youth of Macao.” 

[See more: ‘Milestone’ mission: China is poised to land on the far side of the moon]

Hong Kong’s chief executive John Lee meanwhile noted that this was “the first time that a Hong Kong citizen was selected as a payload specialist in China’s manned space program, with a chance to become an astronaut to go to space in person.” 

Selection of candidates began in the second half of 2022 and took place in three stages. The candidates will now head to the Astronaut Centre of China where they will receive comprehensive training. 

In recent years, China’s space program has been making strides, as demonstrated by the recent Chang’e 6 unmanned lunar mission, which made history by becoming the first probe to land and collect samples from the far side of the moon. 

The country intends to go one further by sending its first astronauts to the moon by 2030, with plans to eventually establish lunar bases. 

UPDATED: 11 Jun 2024, 3:35 pm