A Chinese astronaut who taught schoolchildren about the wonders of science from space, jokes that one of the highlights of her cosmic trip was chasing pieces of chocolates around in zero gravity.
Wang Yaping, only the second ever Chinese woman to enter outer space, travelled to the Tiangong-1 orbiting space station with two other crew members to conduct a range of scientific experiments.
Their Shenzhou-10 spacecraft mission returned safely in Mongolia two weeks ago. But while circling earth, Wang became China’s first astronaut to teach children by live television broadcast. Around sixty million middle and elementary school students watched her physics lessons which included demonstrations of weightlessness with floating water drops.
Having only sent its first cosmonaut, Yang Liwei, off in 2003, China’s space programme has made astounding progress in leaps and bounds. The Shenzhou-10 mission had been China’s longest yet, spending 15 days in orbit.
But now entering its second decade in space China’s plans are more ambitious. They include the building of a permanent orbiting spacecraft to rival the International Space Station and a possible manned mission to Mars between 2040 and 2060. Although Chinese authorities are vague about exact dates they appear confident that their missions – and crucially funding – will continue.
Wang Taping also used her lectures to inform children that "So far, I have not seen any UFOs."Reuse content