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Learning from above the clouds

Updated: 2022-04-04 12:10 ( China Daily )
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Students in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, conduct scientific experiments following the space class last month.[Photo/Xinhua]

Space-based lectures, with the aim to popularize science, inspire generations. Zhao Lei reports.

Song Guoliang, a spacecraft engineer in Beijing, remembers a special lesson-China's first space-based science lecture-that led him to join the industry.

"I can clearly recall the lecture that took place in June 2013, near the end of my fifth year in middle school. I was most impressed by the experiment using a rotating top that showed us how the law of conservation of angular momentum works. After the lecture, I was still fascinated by the rotating top and went to my physics teacher to discuss details of the interesting experiment," the young researcher said.

The lecture lasted some 45 minutes, but it was long enough to spark Song's interest in spaceflights. He chose to apply for Beijing Institute of Technology's School of Aerospace Engineering the next summer, determined to devote himself to China's space endeavors.

"Studying spacecraft engineering made me realize the reason why the rotating-top experiment was selected for the space lecture-it was because the astronauts wanted to show us the physical laws behind a spaceflight," he said. "The lecture injected curiosity about space journeys and explorations in countless students like me and succeeded in spreading space knowledge."

After his graduation, Song landed a job at what appeared to be a most suitable place for a space enthusiast-the China Academy of Space Technology in the northwestern suburbs of Beijing. The academy is a major pillar of China's space program and has developed most of the country's satellites and lunar probes, and all manned spaceships.

Song is not the only one at the academy who has been inspired by space lessons.

Cao Hangchang, also a spacecraft engineer at the academy, said he was in awe when watching astronauts displaying interesting physical phenomena only possible in microgravity and was motivated to learn more about the universe and space travel.

Like Song, Cao took the national college entrance exam in July 2014. He was admitted by Beihang University in Beijing, the alma mater of many renowned Chinese space scientists and engineers.

"The lecture was a key driving force that made me select Beihang and then this academy. Now, I work with many people to design and build our country's new spacecraft, doing the job I had dreamed of nine years ago," he said.

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