Namibian students enthralled with space travel as Chinese astronauts leave lasting imprint


Photo: VCG

WINDHOEK, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Students at Namibia's University of Science and Technology (NUST) have called for more investments in science and technology following a visit by Chinese astronauts.

Liu Yang and Chen Dong, who are in Namibia on a five-day visit, had an opportunity to engage in face to face interactions with the NUST students on Thursday.

The interactions focused on awareness in the development of space science and technology as the Chinese duo shared their experience in space through photographs and videos while entertaining various questions posed by the students.

Leuan van Kent, a 24-year-old senior in Engineering Electronics and Telecommunications at NUST, told Xinhua that he was impressed by the Space Talk session, during which Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut in space, revealed that she had wanted to be a bus driver, but ended up being an astronaut.

"The sky is the limit, who knows it might not be long before we have our very own Namibian astronauts explore space," Van Kent said.

According to him, for Namibia to achieve this, the government or industry players need to invest more in education and training, especially at the Namibian Institute of Space Technology (NIST), which is housed at NUST.

The role of NIST is to produce competent graduates that will play leading roles in the field of space technology as well as contribute to the societal improvement of life by the effective application of satellite applications and technology, amongst others.

"We all know it is expensive, but we can start one step at a time. For instance, we currently host the Chinese satellite tracking station in Swakopmund and through that, we can further learn and train locals," he added.

David John, a computer science senior, said the session with the astronauts was an eye-opener.

"I believe Namibia should not be left behind and hopefully one day we can 'tangle with the stars,' when we have our very own home-made astronaut," he added.

Geomatics student Laameni Haininga said she would like to see Namibia also send a female astronaut to space.

"I myself would not mind following in Yang's footsteps as she has inspired me. One never knows maybe one day I will be in her shoes," she added.

The event was attended by Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming, Namibia's Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Becky Ndjoze-Ojo and NUST officials.

Currently, the two countries enjoy cooperation in the science and technology field as Namibia hosts the China Telemetry, Tracking and Command Station, which tracks the re-entry of Chinese manned space vehicles.