Photo taken on July 18, 2022 shows the combination of China's space station lab module Wentian and a Long March-5B Y3 carrier rocket to be transferred in south China's Hainan Province. (Photo by Tu Haichao/Xinhua)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government officially launched the preliminary screening for payload specialists that could join China's future space missions.
It is the first time that the country recruits candidates for payload specialists in the HKSAR.
The screening process will run till Oct. 27 and candidates should submit their application forms mainly through designated universities, research centers and other institutions.
After initial selection by the HKSAR government, the subsequent screening will be undertaken by the relevant mainland authorities.
The candidates must be Chinese nationals who are permanent residents of the HKSAR, aged between 30 and 45, with a doctoral degree in a relevant field and at least three years of professional working experience in a relevant discipline, announced the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR government.
Payload specialists are professional scientific researchers who are mainly responsible for conducting aerospace experiments or research, operating space laboratory equipment, and managing daily operations of space stations with other astronauts.
Andy Kong, a research assistant with the Laboratory for Space Research (LSR) of the University of Hong Kong, was over the moon at the news of recruiting payload specialists from Hong Kong for the country's space missions.
A PhD candidate in computer science, Kong said he would speed up completing his graduation thesis to be able to qualify. But with a height of over 180 cm, he is disappointed that he might be too tall to meet the requirements.
Space missions require astronauts to meet certain physical attributes, and for this time, male candidates should be between 162 cm and 175 cm in height.
"I even wanted to get my hair cut, but maybe I'm still too tall for this," he said.
Quentin Parker, director of the LSR, said that many students in the lab were very excited to hear the news, but they are too young to apply.
"This is going to capture the imagination of the young people. Even though some young people are not old enough yet for this, they see it as an opportunity," he said.
"With the integration of Hong Kong into the major science endeavors of the country, scientists and engineers in Hong Kong are looking at all the amazing opportunities, not just in the greater bay area but in the mainland in general," he said.
Denis Yip, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), told Xinhua that ASTRI has already confirmed the applications of more than 10 qualified candidates, most of whom are PhDs in electrical engineering and physics.
"If a Hong Konger got the job, that will be something that will go down in history," he said.
HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee hailed the payload specialist recruitment in Hong Kong, saying that it was of "great historical significance."
It shows that the country encourages and welcomes Hong Kong compatriots to contribute to the country's development, and demonstrates the country's confidence in Hong Kong's level of scientific research and development as well as its care for the development of Hong Kong's young people, he said.